Many of you know we recently visited Cooperstown and Baseball’s Hall Of Fame as part of our Silver Anniversary road trip celebration.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Celebrating 25 years of marriage still leaves me astonished. These have been the best years of my life and all the credit goes to Marilyn who has seen me through some difficult times while surviving several life and death health crises of her own.
It was Marilyn who had suggested we return to Cooperstown for our anniversary. In a year of many family soap opera crises, Marilyn realized this would be the perfect spot for her husband, the lifelong baseball fan.
We entered the Hall of Fame with great expectations. This has been a year of baseball disappointment because of our under-achieving Red Sox. We would forget all the bumbling performance of this year’s team as we visited heroes of the past.
Team loyalty is on hold in the Hall of Fame. You are walking among the greats. These are the heroes of your youth and those who came before them.
But something was wrong. We had trouble seeing the photos and exhibits in many of the rooms. The lighting was very poor. Non-existent in some places. Exhibits were all behind glass, crammed into tiny little locker-sized cabinets.
Many of the scenes recalled from our visit 23 years ago were missing. Access to the exhibits was severely limited and most of the interactive stuff has been removed. The intimacy that was so much a part of our earlier visit was gone.
There were no benches in exhibit areas. The very limited seating was confined to hallways near the exits and elevators. This created a rather hostile environment for anyone with mobility issues and ignored the needs of the older faithful (the majority of visitors) who had come to recapture memories.
Restrooms were difficult to find and required a guide. No signs pointing to restrooms or signs for the other exhibits. Which is unfortunate since the museum is labyrinthine. If we hadn’t stumbled on exhibits while trying to find the restrooms (then trying to find our way back), we’d have missed everything.
Is this the latest in museum design?
The final insult was the dreary gift shop. It had been a treasure trove in previous visits, full of unique stuff you could only get at the museum. We still have the shirts we bought there 23 years earlier. This time, it was all the usual stuff.
There’s a better selection at the shop on Yawkey Way across from Fenway Park. Marilyn — who can always find something to buy — couldn’t find anything. Sad.
Last time we were there, a life-size Babe Ruth with Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First” playing in a loop, greeted us on arrival. This time, nothing. It was just a museum with bad lighting and no place to sit down.
It seems like baseball’s main attractions had been scaled down. The museum, in an attempt to cram in more stuff, has lost understanding of what fans want to see.
Major league baseball, with billions in its coffers, is forgetting its showcase. Neglecting the fans who visit from around the world. I’m not sure whether or not this is a reflection of baseball’s internal problems. If so, it’s a crying shame.
There were some nice moments. Hanging out with baseball greats in fantasy sessions. Swapping chit-chat about how the game has changed and thanking them for those memories — frozen in time across the decades.
Maybe I should sympathize with the Hall of Fame as I approach the midway mark of the seventh decade of my life.
Then again, maybe not.
Which doesn’t mean if you love baseball, you shouldn’t go. You should go. Because for lovers of baseball and its history, it is the only game in town.
“It’s ain’t over till it’s over.”
R.I.P. – YOGI BERRA
Yogi Berra passed away yesterday, September 23, 2015 at the age of 90. His contributions to baseball are too great to even begin to list. He was the last of the living legends.
Yogi, we will always miss you!