This past January, Ashley Burnett and I visited Cooperstown, New York, site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This trip was a dream come true, as I had been longing to see Cooperstown since I was a young kid. I will provide you with some highlights of our trip:
-The area around Cooperstown is beautiful with snow-covered mountains this time of year. After leaving Albany (where we flew into), you are in the country until you reach Cooperstown. The people listen to country music and it kind of reminds you of being back home in South Carolina.
-Cooperstown is a village that reminded me of Newberry for some reason. It is small with one main street on it. There is a flagpole right in the middle of the main road. Why I have no idea, but it was crazy trying to turn around that thing. Everything in the town is baseball oriented.
-I never knew what single digit temperatures felt like. It is much different than the cold we experience here in South Carolina. My face is finally starting to thaw out I think!
-The Hall of Fame was everything I thought it would be and more. My favorite part of the Hall was viewing the lockers of the Hall of Famers. I was particularly interested in anything that had to do with Nolan Ryan or the Chicago Cubs. They had a lot of memorabilia of Ernie Banks, one of my favorite Cubbies. It was neat to see the World Series Championship rings and how they had progressed over time. The 2003 Florida Marlins ring took the award for being the worst looking piece of jewelry I have ever seen!! The ring might fit on three of my fingers.
-I also thought it was really neat to see the baseball from each no-hitter that has been thrown in Major League history. There is so much history in that building it is amazing. I thought it was cool to see Curt Schillingâs bloody sock from the 2003 World Series. I cannot imagine pitching through that kind of pain.
-Another thing I enjoyed was seeing the way equipment has changed over the years. It is amazing to think back and imagine how it must have felt to catch a Cy Young fastball with the mitts they used. Speaking of Cy Young, the numbers he put up over his career are absolutely mind boggling and will never be duplicated. He threw double what starting pitchers today throw in a season. He didnât know what the term âbullpenâ meant!
-Our hotel was unique. There is a lot of history in Cooperstown. The hotel was over 100 years old and had the feel of an old place. The hotel manager, Tom, was very friendly and even cooked us breakfast each morning we were there.
-The shops around the Hall of Fame were interesting as well. They had anything and everything baseball-wise you could imagine from autographed memorabilia to personally engraved wooden bats.
-Some of the shops were closed due to the winter season. Many people around town said that Cooperstown is a zoo in the summer. It was nice to not have to deal with a lot of people while in the Hall of Fame. We could take our time and look as we pleased without being rushed or crowded.
-There is a lake in Cooperstown. It was frozen solid along the banks. We got a good picture of some birds just hanging out on the ice. We made bets on diving into the lake but neither of our prices was high enough!!
-We saw about three inches of snow when we woke up on Tuesday morning. It was neat to see the difference in the way people there reacted compared to people in South Carolina. Snowplows moved the snow and people went about their business like nothing unusual was happening.
-We ate a lot of great food in Cooperstown. We ate at a tremendous seafood restaurant Wednesday evening. There was also a really good pizza place where we had lunch one day.
-There is a baseball complex called âCooperstown Dreamsâ that is a tremendous facility. There are close to 20 fields in the complex that hosts AAU tournaments throughout the summer. The complex also has housing for the teams. Truly a first class facility I am sure any young kid would love to play there. We also saw Doubleday Field (pictured), which is supposedly where baseball originated. It is a neat little ballpark that is still home to the Hall of Fame game each spring. I bet Major Leaguers love to hit in this tiny ballpark. It was something like 295â down the leftfield lineâ¦not a pitcherâs friend.
-They had a big exhibit on Babe Ruth that I really enjoyed. It captured his personal side. I did not realize the love and interest he took in young children.
-The exhibit on the old Negro leagues was outstanding as well. It showcased the accomplishments of many individuals that were outstanding baseball players, yet people know very little about them.
Cooperstown lived up to every expectation I had and much more!! It is a must see for any die-hard baseball fan. The experience was truly one I will remember forever!!
About the author: Banks Faulkner is in his second year as the pitching coach for Gilbert High School. The 1999 Lexington High grad played at Erskine College for two years before graduating from Clemson University. Prior to his stinit at Gilbert, he spent one year apiece coaching at Walhalla (2004) and Lexington (2005). Faulkner spends his summer and fall as a coach for the Palmetto Sand Gnats 17U team.