In the difficult times we are all currently facing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many baseball fans have been unable to enjoy their favorite sport as they normally would. 2020 has seen a very abbreviated Major League Baseball season and only a select few other teams take the field to play ball in empty ballparks or with extremely light crowds. With the Atlantic League being unable to have a season this year, Quack of the Bat decided to get a bit of a baseball fix by heading up to Cooperstown, N.Y. recently to check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
For those that love baseball, this trip is a MUST. This little town is about four and a half hours away from Long Island (depending where on the island you’re traveling from), and Main Street is a baseball paradise. Shops filled with Cooperstown souvenirs and baseball memorabilia line the street along with some great restaurants. A favorite is Doubleday Café! All of those lead to the Hall of Fame at the end of the street, the pinnacle landing spot for any baseball player.
The Hall of Fame contains a litany of artifacts from throughout baseball history, dating all the way back to the 1800s. Its archive of baseball, bats, jerseys, gloves, lockers and so many other treasures of baseball is what makes this place so special. New York baseball fans especially will love the many references to their beloved team. Yankees fans will find a giant wall showcasing the 27 World Series championships the Yankees have won, including a replica of the 1996 Commissioner’s Trophy in front of it, and uniforms worn by the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Mets fans can enjoy a peek at a batting helmet worn by Ray Knight, a baseball from Johan Santana’s no-hitter, a jersey donned by Dwight Gooden, and so much more.
Not only is Cooperstown home to many Major League Baseball artifacts, but it is also the place where a special piece of Atlantic League history resides. Within the past year, the Hall of Fame added an earpiece worn by ALPB home plate umpire Fred DeJesus to the end of its “Whole New Ballgame” exhibit on the second floor. In the “Today’s Game” showcase, the earpiece rests on a shelf with a description acknowledging the league’s use of an electronic strike zone in 2019.
The earpiece was worn by DeJesus during the Long Island Ducks game against the New Britain Bees on July 25, 2019, in what was the first Atlantic League regular season game to implement the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS). Following the first inning, the earpiece was presented by DeJesus and his fellow-umpires to Ducks Founder/CEO Frank Boulton, who would then donate the artifact to the Hall of Fame on behalf of the ALPB.
However, this is not the first time the Atlantic League has had an item on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Back in 2015, the league debuted a new baseball with red and blue seams at the All-Star Game in Bridgeport. It has since used that baseball during all games. The baseball that D.J. Mitchell threw for the first pitch of the 2015 All-Star Game was donated to the Hall of Fame following the game. As noted in the description, it recalls the stitches used on American League baseballs through 1933. Additionally, last year, the cleats Blue Crabs outfielder Tony Thomas wore when he became the first player in baseball history to steal first base, were also donated to the Hall of Fame.
Several other artifacts are on display that have connections to the Atlantic League throughout the Hall of Fame. Here are a few of them:
Induction Plaques of ALPB alumni Gary Carter, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines
Catching Mitt worn by Gary Carter
Angels Jersey worn by ALPB alumnus Francisco Rodriguez
Team Israel Cap worn by ALPB alumnus Josh Zeid
To conclude, a visit to Cooperstown should be on every baseball fans’ bucket list, and there has never been a better time to visit. For more information, go to BaseballHall.org.
Have you been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown? What do you enjoy most about this special place? Do you have a favorite artifact on display? Comment and let us know!