I had no clue what to expect from our trip to Cooperstown, New York. Sure, I knew about the Hall of Fame and all of the history and tradition that goes along with it. I have been told, multiple times, that it is the ultimate experience for any baseball fan. But I had never been there. Well that all changed in late July, as we set off for Hall of Fame Weekend.
On it’s surface, Cooperstown matched the idea of it that I had in my head. It was small and secluded. But I had somehow underestimated how much baseball meant to this village. Every store and cafe on Main Street was baseball themed. If I had ever wanted any baseball antiques, I had hit the jackpot. Then I walked through the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time, and everything felt right in the world.
I consider myself a huge baseball fan. I’m a diehard Philadelphia Phillies supporter, through the good times and the bad. I know that we were in Cooperstown to be members of the media for Hall of Fame Weekend, but I was there firstly as a fan. Walking into the Hall of Fame and seeing jerseys worn by Mike Schmidt or the hat that Roy Halladay had worn when he recorded his no hitter in the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds blew me away. Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire weekend was sitting down in a seat from Veteran’s Stadium, where I had seen my first baseball game, and where I had learned to love the game of baseball.
The weekend in Cooperstown was filled with moments I will never forget, like interviewing Ozzie Smith, George Brett and other baseball legends. In fact I spent my 21st birthday sitting in the bleachers of Doubleday Field getting our equipment set up for our One on One broadcast. It all happened so fast, and it was all pretty surreal.
Writing this piece was challenging for me, because it is hard to put into words exactly how I feel about our trip to Cooperstown. I experienced so many things in one weekend that many baseball fans never get to do in their entire lives. I guess this is the best way to sum it up: whenever anyone asks me how I spent my 21st birthday, I will have a pretty good answer.
I didn’t know what to expect on our trip to Cooperstown, but I don’t know if it was possible to have any concrete expectation for an experience like this. All I knew was we were in for something special. Cooperstown is a small village, but there are sites we couldn’t miss at the center of town. We had, of course, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, then Doubleday Field, and a considerable amount of delectable restaurants to visit. As any visitor can imagine, baseball is the theme of the village… all the time.
But it was a little different on Induction Weekend. We didn’t just talk to legends of the game, and we didn’t only watch another historic ceremony. We felt the nostalgic aura that touches every baseball fan, young and old. Walking through the Hall, we traced baseball’s history back to its roots. We examined artifacts from old ballparks and could nearly touch uniforms worn by players. To finish the tour, we admired the plaques dedicated to the game’s greatest in the Hall of Fame Gallery. Subsequently, we sat in the lonely bleachers of Doubleday Field and absorbed the quaintness of its environment.
On Induction Weekend, however, the nostalgia is heightened. We didn’t feel like we were looking at Ebbets Field when we saw it, we felt like we were there. We didn’t just see Barry Larkin pose for a picture on stage with his new plaque. We felt a stronger, more personal connection with him and Ron Santo, as if to say that baseball is the binding force that brings fans together. It brought together fans on that Hall of Fame Weekend, and the quiet, humble village of Cooperstown was the perfect host.