Greetings from the Plaque Gallery in the Baseball Hall of Fame! Each player inducted into the HOF (Hall of Fame) is presented with a plaque, and the plaque is then enshrined into the hall forever. There are a total of 297 plaques in the hall with more being added each year.
Looking at Stan the Man Musial’s plaque in the Plaque Room! I am a huge Stan Musial fan as evident by the jersey I am wearing.
On each plaque, the player’s face is engraved on the top. Below the face is the players full name as well as all of the teams he played for. Then finally, there is a short biography of the player and his accomplishments. Each player who served in the military is also given a bronze medal below his plaque.
Ernie Banks’ plaque. Note the medal below his plaque for his military service.
Another interesting feature in the gallery is that each home country represented in the HOF is represented by a flag in the front of the room. The countries represented are the United States, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Panama, Canada, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and England. It was a neat addition to an already legendary room.
All in all, the plaque room has been the highlight of my trip to Cooperstown. You know you are walking on sacred ground when you are walking around and reading all of the plaques. It is still surreal for me to believe that I am here walking in the shadow of legends.
Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible! My classmates and I have learned so much on how baseball has helped shape our nation’s identity, and we have all enhanced our research skills which will be valuable to us in our next four years at Wabash.
Wabash Always Fights,
Jerel Taylor ’16
PS: Go Cardinals!
And just like that my first and final blog post has been started. This trip has marked the second time I have been to Cooperstown and subsequently the second time I have been to the Hall of Fame. The day started off early. Very early. I went down stairs for breakfast about 8:30 and promptly loaded into the van for our 5-ish mile trek to the Hall. Walking into the main lobby was an experience in its own. As I walked in, I immediately was drawn to three statues: Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and Roberto Clemente. After about 10 more minutes of organizing the trip within the lobby we were set free. We all were immediately were drawn to the plaque room seeing as how its the first room on the first floor. After skimming over the plaques of players I hardly recognized e.g. Hugh Duffy, Pud Galvin, Jack Beckly, etc. I really spent time looking over and reading my favorite player’s plaques: Dave Winfield, Mickey Mantle, Cool Papa Bell, Rickey Henderson, and Bob Gibson. Although I knew I had all day I was ready to go really explore the whole museum. Waiting for no one and venturing off alone I went upstairs to see what old New York Yankees treasures I could find. I was not disappointed. Sections dedicated to Yankee’s teams from every decade are what I am going to take away most from this trip. I was especially drawn to the section devoted to the Yankees’ teams of the 90′s. It was there I found my Holy Grail, Paul O’Neill’s bat from the 1994 season. I don’t know why but I never expected to find anything personal from my favorite player in the Hall since Paul O’Neill, the player, is not in himself. Honestly, after I saw his bat, I could’ve left. It made my day and it wasn’t even 11 o’clock, but nevertheless I pressed on. Soon after I saw exhibits of all current teams with memorabilia laden lockers, the infamous bloody sock, and all types of baseball art. The third floor was next, the record rooms. Home run balls, stolen bases, gloves, and cleats all from players that had broken some sort or record or passed a great milestone. Then, there it was, the World Series room. The room where there would surely be plenty of Yankees’ memorabilia that I couldn’t believe of seeing. Rings, Don Larsen’s hat from his 1956 perfect game, Mariano Rivera’s hat from the ’09 World Series, and the ball from the said Don Larsen game. That’s it. I was done. Nothing else mattered. I had seen it all. I was truly blown away by all of this great stuff that I had seen. It was time to hit the town. I roamed the streets of Cooperstown going in and out of shops browsing the many walls lined with jerseys, hats, and posters. Soon after, we went back to the museum to learn about the Cooperstown internship (which I have every intention to apply for). We toured the archives next. We saw the rooms where the Hall stores all of the items not currently on display in the museum, and we got a treat and saw the check that paid for Babe Ruth’s trade to the Yankees. By this time, however, I was so hungry it was hard to concentrate on much of anything. It was time to eat, and after a couple of hours of killing time, it had finally arrived. We sat down to dinner at the Doubleday Cafe which I totally recommend, and that concluded our day. I am now sitting in the hotel praying my Yanks can beat the Orioles because I DO NOT want a Game 5.
As we entered into the quant research room of the Hall of Fame, a long light brown table centered the room and baseball paintings lined the walls. After a brief introduction, we were instructed to put on white gloves to protect the documents. Like a hungry customer waiting for a big burger, we expected full plates, but we weren’t expecting a cow. As resources of our topic piled in front of us, we dropped our jaws at the thickness of our respective folders.
As I opened my folders, I began with the letters and government resolutions calling for the enshrinement of Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame (my topic).
The support ranged from current baseball Hall of Famers to government officials. Time and time again I found praise of not just his play on the field, but his character and integrity off the field. I found myself staring into the history of not just a baseball player, but the history of a soldier, ballplayer, and outstanding human being. The copies of personal, handwritten letters provided a glimpse into baseball and Gil Hodges that not even the Internet could provide. This opportunity of research, open to anyone by request, provided us with a chance to experience a more personal side of professional baseball.
Tomorrow starts another full day of Hall of Fame touring and researching. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. We are enjoying every bit of it!
Wabash Always Fights!
After a morning of drifting past several exhibits, and browsing through some local memorabilia stores we got a tour of the library from Jim Gates, the head librarian. Over the course of the tour Mr. Gates showed us that the Hall of Fame is much, much more than just an enshrinement of baseball’s greatest, most memorable players on the field. The Hall of Fame functions as the record keeper of baseball. The Hall of Fame is home to not only memorabilia from famous players but has a very detailed history of baseball as a whole, including a file on every player to play as little as a single pitch in a major league baseball game. We were also shown an example of some of the cool pieces of history the Hall of Fame is in possession of, including one of the promissory notes that was part of the Red Sox sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
The Hall of Fame is also very interested in baseball’s impact on society. The Hall of Fame has things like the Abbot and Costello Gold Record from “Who’s on First?” The Hall of Fame also has oral histories that they have taken from visitors including stories from several Japanese American couples who had been placed in internment camps during World War II, and how playing baseball while imprisoned helped get the, through the whole experience.
Mr. Gates also told us about what it is like to work at the Baseball Hall of Fame. As the unofficial record keeper of baseball, the Hall of Fame receives daily questions about baseball facts. He told us that he is actually on a first name basis with many sportswriters from working with them as they call in with questions. Mr. Gates then got to brag a little about some of the perks that come along with his job and told us about the famous people he has met while working at the hall of fame including giving tours to Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson, Charlie Sheen, both of the George Bushes, and the Clintons. After hearing these stories I heard someone from our group say “this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to be a librarian.”
The library tour gave us a look at another part of the Hall of Fame and definitely changed my perspective of it. The amount of information that the library contains will certainly be very useful as I begin to write my papers assigned to us over the trip. I also found out that the way the Hall of Fame looks at baseball is very similar to how our class looks at baseball, focusing more on baseball’s place in society rather than just what happens on the field.
Photos from day one of our trip can be seen here.
Posted in Anthony Kupstis, Brock Hammond, Clayton Highum, Elliot Johns, Jerel Taylor, John Belford, Jordan Grooms, Joseph Murphy, Justin Green, Matthew Page, Mike Raters, Samuel Demkoski, Seth Gunderman, Steve Klein, Todd McDorman, Zachary Canon
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous for the first flights of my life. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Both of the flights went great! The flight attendant even gave me my wings for completing my first flight ever! Our only layover was waiting for our second flight in Cleveland. As we were waiting there, you could feel how ready everyone was to finally be in Cooperstown. Now that we are here, we are just a night’s sleep away from being at the hall of fame tomorrow!
Hello, and welcome to the Baseball and American Identity Freshman Tutorial class immersion trip. As I am writing this, I know that all of us are preparing for a very fun time in Cooperstown, New York. I, personally, have never been to New York and am looking forward to all of the new experiences that I will gain. This trip is not all fun and games, though. We must research for not one, but two papers that we will write on our chosen subjects about baseball. It will be hard work, but some of it will seem easy due to all of the new things about our subjects that we will be discovering.
I am looking forward to seeing the town of Cooperstown, also. This will be my first experience in the state of New York and am looking forward to all of the fun things that the town has to offer. I hope that the town will have a good pizza place where I can try my first New York Style pizza. Also, I am looking forward to the ten percent discount that we receive as members of the Hall of Fame so that I can buy some new Cubs apparel. Well, I think that it is time for me so sign off because I still have much packing to do. See you soon!
In the classic baseball film Field of Dreams, Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) reflects, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.” “Baseball and American Identity” focuses on this very idea: how baseball tells the story of America. To that end, the course underscores how “America’s Pastime” has been an integral part of the social and political fabric of the United States and a microcosm of the concerns and issues facing the country. For instance, baseball has played a vital role in times of national and international crisis. It also has provided a means for addressing and exposing sensitive social issues, including the struggles of African-Americans, immigrants, women, homosexuals, and the disabled to achieve inclusion in baseball and society at large.
However, this course is not only concerned with what baseball “is” but what it has been constructed as being — how it has been held up as vital to the American experience. Central to this element of the course will be an immersion trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. There we will see an “official” effort to construct the meaning of baseball, one that offers various articulations of public memory and promotes a sense of nostalgia for baseball and the nation. Thus through readings, films, immersion, and discussion and debate, this course will examine the meaning of baseball in America while considering its role in American identity, its reflection on and construction of American values, and its centrality to myths and memories of what the nation and the sport stands for.