So what do you do when the real baseball season is over? If you have marginal interest in the final throes — and I speak of the November Classic, the World Series — you pay a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame, even as you indulge in a bit of leaf-peeping. And both, for us, will have already occurred as you indulge in this post, written and scheduled, cleverly, before the fact, or facts.
I grew up less than an hour away from Cooperstown, but never darkened the doors of that hallowed (so they say) place, largely because Mom declared that she had little attraction to a building that housed “a bunch of ballbats and crusty old gloves.” So as kids we went instead to the nearby Farmers Museum — which housed a bunch of plows and crusty old farming implements.
In return trips to the area throughout the years I still passed by on a visit, perhaps biased by Mom’s own bias of earlier years, perhaps failing to see the point. Only four years ago I was in Cooperstown on one of those leaf visits and walked right by the entrance, but was not moved to take the plunge.
This time things are different. This time we’re on the heels of a complete local (Dodgers and Angels) baseball season, where any number of players have become household names — at least in this household. This time we’ve lived dozens of games and savored the matchless tones of Vin Scully as he made it all real. And this time we’ve got a convert on our hands: Batter up, Kris!
The Baseball Hall of Fame is not Mecca-like to me; that would be the old Yankee Stadium. Going to a game there was a bit like going to church, as in a few stops south on the 4 Train at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But the Hall of Fame may be an essential stop for the true baseball fan. Baseball, as everyone knows, was invented in Cooperstown by the redoubtable Abner Doubleday, and for many years there was a scheduled major league game there in the middle of the summer, coordinated with the induction of the best of the best. It always struck me how often an announcer would refer to a standout player as “Hall of Fame bound.”
So the bottom-line reason for crossing the threshold of the Hall of Fame is to serve as a capper for the 2010 season. Our visit promises to make the game a reality, practiced by men and women for more than a century. It will go beyond inflated salaries — but hardly inflated egos — and numbers and into bona fide history. One of the parts of baseball I’ve always relished through the decades has been its connection with the past and its comparison with conquests of previous years to today and the people who were involved: Buster Posey’s great, but does he match up with Johnny Bench? Roy Halladay has thrown two no-hitters this year, but Koufax threw five in his career. That kind of stuff. And it goes on, and happily will go on as long as the game is played.
That kind of stuff. And we hope to see a ton of it on display…among a bunch of ballbats and crusty old gloves — even as Kris does her rendition of Aaron Rowand’s batting stance, all not far, I can only hope, from the plaques of Tinker to Evers to Chance.