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Visiting Cooperstown [Part 1]

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 21, 2010

I decided to take my family to visit Cooperstown, New York, this past Saturday and Sunday. It's becoming a somewhat ritual thing for us - as this was our fourth visit there in the last seven years.

If you've never been to Cooperstown, and, someday have the chance to go, I highly recommend it. Besides being the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown - the place - is beautiful. It's small town, quaint and tranquil. Many of the homes and buildings there date back to the 1800's.

It's just a good time, as well, milling around with other baseball fans of all ages. While there, I saw or met fans of the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Braves, Phillies, Cubs, and Twins.

I've decided to share some pictures of our trip - and I am going to break them down in installments. We'll start with pictures of the town, move on to some scenes from Doubleday Field, then things to be seen in the museum, followed by some shots of Otsego Lake, and, will close with some plaque snapshots from the Hall.

Here are some of the sights around Main Street in Cooperstown.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos.

Residence on Fair Street, Cooperstown, NY

Side view of residence on Fair Street, Cooperstown NY

Home on the corner of Fair & Main Streets, Cooperstown NY

Corner of Pioneer Street, north of Main St., Cooperstown NY

North side of Main Street, west of Pioneer Street, Cooperstown NY

Building on north side of Main Street of Cooperstown, NY - Built in 1862

Shops on the north side of Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Tavern and shops on Pioneer Street, south of Main St., Cooperstown NY

South side of Main Street, west of Pioneer St., Cooperstown NY

South side of Main Street, between Pioneer Street & Doubleday Court, Cooperstown NY

Top of former First National Bank, now Baseball Wax Museum, Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Sign on Main Street, by Doubleday Court, Cooperstown NY

South side of Main Street, west of Doubleday Ct., Cooperstown NY

Converted Smalley's Theatre Main Street, between Doubleday Ct. and Chestnut St., Cooperstown NY

Trolley heads down Main Street, Cooperstown NY

View heading east on Main Street, Cooperstown NY, via Trolley ride.

Building from 1876 on the corner of Main Street & Hoffman Lane, Cooperstown NY

Post Office, Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Wilber National Bank Building, Est. 1874, Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Cooperstown Village Library, Est. 1797, Main St., Cooperstown NY

Clark Building, Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Baseball Hall of Fame Offices, Main Street - Built 1889 & Rebuilt 1929, Cooperstown NY

View of Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum from front side, Main Street, Cooperstown NY

Front of Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, Main St., Cooperstown NY

Entrance of Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, Cooperstown NY

James Fenimore Cooper Statue, Cooper Park, Cooperstown NY

Johnny Podres Statue in courtyard next to Hall of Fame & Cooper Park, Cooperstown NY

Roy Campanella Statue in courtyard next to Hall of Fame & Cooper Park, Cooperstown NY

41 Responses to “Visiting Cooperstown [Part 1]”

  1. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    It has changed a little since I went there as a 15-year-old kid -- but then, what hasn't changed since that year {1950}.

    Thanks for the "Mini Tour". I am considering Cooperstown strongly for my vacation next Spring.

  2. Pageup Says:

    I was there for a night and day in August with my wife at the end of a longer trip and must say that plaque room is a pretty impressive place; the worst guys in there were incredible ballplayers. Actually, I loved all the old artifacts and wouldn't mind spending a few days digging through all the files in that library, there must be some incredible documents...

  3. StephenH Says:


    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I have been to Cooperstown three times, but not in the last 7 years. I need to go back. Looking forward to the rest of your photos.

  4. Tmckelv Says:

    Beautiful. I have been to the HOF Museum twice, but never really spent any time in Cooperstown. Now I am motivated to do so...not that I really need an excuse to want to go there.

  5. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Frank - FWIW, my first time there was when I was 17-years old (now over 30 years ago). And, I didn't have a chance to go back until I had my own family. (We've gone in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010 now.) And, I can tell you, it was just as much fun as the first time, all those years later. If you go back, you'll enjoy it. Heck, I enjoy it now, each time, even with us going so often.

    Pageup - I think you'll like some of the artifact and plaque pictures I have coming soon.

    StephenH - Thanks. It's my pleasure to share these! 😉

  6. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Tmckelv - the town is beautiful. Next time you're there, check out some of the other stuff to do, outside of the museum.

    My kids are young [6 & 8] and they can only go so long in the museum. But, they enjoy our trips there (as does my wife) because there's other things to enjoy in the town.

    In fact, for our next trip there, I promised them to make it one-third to one-half baseball and the rest "things in, and around Cooperstown" - rather than it being 80% (or so) about just the Hall & I usually do. (I'm really bad with this stuff - and I could spend two hours, or more, just looking at all the stuff on the second floor of the museum, alone.)

  7. dennis levy Says:

    I want to thank the poster for the wonderful photos of Cooperstown! I live in Bogota Colombia and i always tell Colombian acquantancves who are thinking of visitng the US.... that they should include Cooperstown as part of their itinerary. of corse they don t get it and other then Edgar Renteria, Colombia doesnt have a presence in the MLB, but what I try to say to them is that Cooperstown shows two things. the virtues of small town America and the history of baseball, which is inextricably woven with the history of the US.

    I havent been to Cooperstown in 25 years, but I think I would be jsut as thrilled to walk through the museum and see the plaques again.

    One point I would like to make is that there are players in the MLB HOF who have not had their numbers retired or names acknoledged on the walls of the stadiums of major league baseball. Sometimes its because the franchise moved, sometimes it because of BS politics or an owner(s) who don t respect the history of the franchises that they own.

    Among the conspicuoulsy misisng
    Atheletics........... Foxx, Grove, Cochrane, Simmons
    Tigers.............. Heilmann
    Yankees...............Lazzeri, Ruffing, Gomez (in my mind much more derserving then Billy Martin or Roger Maris!
    Giants.............. Joe McGinnity
    Cubs................. Three Fingers Brown, Frank Chance
    White Sox............ Ed Walsh, Hoyt Wilhelm (who deserved to have his number retired by at least one team!
    Twins (old Washington Senators)............Walter Johnson, Zack Wheat
    Cleveland Indians-----Cy Young

    I can make a case for a ton of players who are not in the HOF who should have their numbers retired by teams that they are identified with...

    but these players above have two things in common...they are all in the HOF and they are all dead, among the greates who ever played the game

    And so no one cares....

    I think it would enrich the history of baseball, if teams did the right thing....for star HOF players of the past.

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    A few of those players didn't wear numbers.

  9. dennis levy Says:

    Johnny, yes you right, but Matthewson, Alexander and Cobb are examples of players who have been honored and who didnt wear numbers.why not others?

    Zack Wheat should be on the Dogers stadium wall and not on the Twins, my mistake

    And while were on the subject, why cant Oakland also put on their stadium wall?

    CM.......Connie Mack!!!!

    The Yankees
    MH......Miller Huggins (who managed Yankees teams to 6 pennants and 3 WS championships!!!!

    ER------Ed Roush

  10. Jeff Wise Says:

    Those are some great pictures! Thank you for sharing. I'm guessing that my first visit to Cooperstown will be when a Mariner is inducted. Hopefully Edgar Martinez but Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. for sure.

  11. StephenH Says:

    Dennis Levy (#7),
    Thanks for the great post. Are you sure about all of those players?

    I was at the ballpark formally know as the Jake last summer(2009) and I thought Cy Young was (is?) in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, which is located in the ballpark.

    I also thought that Walter Johnson was represented in the old RFK stadium that the Nationals used to play in. I don't know about their current stadium.

    Foxx, Grove, Cochrane and Simmons are all represented in the current Citzens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia. Their portraits are in the Philly Hall of Fame section, indoors on the suite level. They may (not sure) also be represented on a statue outside the ballpark.

    The Giants do have names on their stadium of NY Giants who played before there were numbers on the uniforms. Mathewson and McGraw come to mind. Ott is represented by his name and number. Not sure why Iron Man Joe McGinnity is not represented. He should be.

    Lefty Gomez has had a plaque in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium since 1987. Ruffing since 2004. I am not sure why Lazzeri is not there.

    Looking at my post it looks like I am attacking Dan's post, and I assure you I am not. I think its a great subject. I would love to see a list/posting of deserving players who are not represented at a ballpark. AND all names/numbers/honors should be accessible by all fans. Not just fans who have tickets to the highest priced seats.

  12. StephenH Says:


    Miller Huggins has the first monument ever placed in Yankee Stadium.

  13. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Dennis - you're spot on when you sid that "Cooperstown shows two things. the virtues of small town America and the history of baseball, which is inextricably woven with the history of the US." Nicely done.

    Jeff W - it will be worth the trip when you make it. (Betcha Unit beats Griff, he retired sooner - 'tho Edgar should be the first...but, knowing how things work, Randy will probably be the first one. He would have to be an "M," right, and not a D-back.)

  14. dennis levy Says:

    Gentlemen, you re absolutely right in your comments....

    And i should have been a little bit clearer....when I say honored or recognized, I m with Stephen H on own personal definitio is that every fan in that ball park can see their initials or number at any time during a game....

    I dont want this to be taken as any kind of racist comment......because it isnt but can you inmagine the results of the political firestorm if every team had been told that they had latitude to honor Jackie Robinson in their own way. But it was clear and unequivocsl, wit the exception of current players who were wearing 42....Number 42 was reired by every major league team and I believe 42 is visible to everyone in every MLB stadium.

    here a couple more...

    Urban Red Faber.................why didnt the White Sox retire 18 his numer? He pitched for them for 20 years and won 254 games, and he s in the HOF!
    Billy Southworth, great HOF manager won 4 pennants with the Cardinals and Braves between 42 and 48, the Cards cant put BS on the wall?

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Johnson should probably go in as a Diamondback, but it may be close enough that his own opinion could sway the decision. (No idea what his opinion is.)

  16. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Johnny - Dunno 'bout that. Unit had ten seasons in Seattle and just six prime ones in Arizona.

  17. JR Says:

    Cooperstown is a great trip. I used to go every other year for a while. I plan on going up next month for the first time in about 5 years.

    Randy Johnson has to go in the Hall as a Diamondback. Most of his major accomplishments were as a D'back (4 Cy Youngs, Perfect Game, WS championship, 20K game). It is a no brainer.

    As for when Curt Schilling goes in, I would probably say he would go in as a Red Sox. 2 World Championships, especially the 1st for the Sox in 1918, would seem logical.

  18. KenH Says:

    Great stuff Steve. I may never get there as I am a western Canadian. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Steve Lombardi Says:

    JR - have a good trip - and, good points on Unit.

    KenH - thanks. Yeah, western Canada would be a hike. FWIW, I did see three Jays fans there this weekend - one wearing a Jays jersey with Thompson (IIRC) on the back. So, Canada was represented!

  20. Pageup Says:

    One thing I liked about the place is that it's totally understated from the outside, a rather plainish brick building that might be an insurance company, but one with a whole lotta fine stuff on the inside. I guess that's another marker that it's in small town America, though a rather spiffed up small town at that.

    When I was in there I heard some girl, about ten years old I guess, say "oh yeah, my dad played with Cal Rupken too." That place must get a lot of that kind of traffic.

    Now I gotta get to the Basketball Hall of Fame...

  21. Pageup Says:

    Oh yeah, Steve, nice post, looking forward to #2...

  22. Phil Haberkorn Says:

    I would like to add Gabby Hartnett to the list of Cubs who deserve some kind of recognition at the ballpark. Retiring numbers should be approached carefully, but given that his "Homer in the Gloamin'" is one of the legendary all-time HRs ever hit, the guy deserves something. But then do you retire Bobby Thompson's number for the "Shot Heard Round the World?" Kirk Gibson for his "miracle" shot almost like a scene from "The Natural?" The problem with displaying just a guy's initials is that many people won't know who it's for. And pretty soon you start running out of space. How about this: on the anniversary of Gabby's heroic HR, the Cubs play a day game that starts at 5PM but they don't use the ballpark lights, so the game ends "in the gloamin'". . . .maybe an even later start because of Daylight Saving Time, and it doesn't get dark til nearly 10PM?. Hey, don't laugh, back then Cubs games really did start in the mid to late afternoons sometimes.

  23. Scott Crawford Says:

    This post makes me miss the heck out of Cooperstown. Haven't been up there since Gossage was inducted a couple of years ago. I came for the baseball, and came back for the tranquility (even on Induction Weekend, it can still be found, usually). Great town, great area of the country.

  24. Cam Says:

    I got to go down there last year and it was amazing. Too bad it was pouring out. I saw some great artifacts. Apparently it was Congrats Phillies on winning the WS weekend so 9/10 people were wearing Phillies hats. We didn't see anything outside besides Doubleday Field. I hope I get a chance to visit again.

  25. dennis levy Says:

    Phil, nice post about Gabby Hartnett.

    Of course....Gabby hartnett is known for the Homer in the Gloamin but he a hall of Fame chatcher and he got in on his own steam, elected by the BBWA 14 years after he retired. He was the NL MVP in 1935 and a key player on the 1934, 35 and 38 pennant teams and he also managed the 38 team. He is way more then just a 1 dramatic Home Run player although Bobby Thompson and Kirk Gibson were very good players, but they werent HOFers.

    Gabby Hartentt played 20 years, 19 with the Cubs and he is in the HOF. A HOFer who is tops at his position, wins an MVP.... hit .297 lifetime as a catcher..... plays 19 years for your team and manages the team, how do you NOT put his numer on the wall!!!

    Number 7 or Number 9, right before Ron Santo s Number 10.

    And this is exactly what Im talking about.. How the hell do you overlook a HOFer who played 19 years for your franchise???????????????

  26. John Q Says:

    The town has changed drastically from the first time I went about 30 years ago. 30 years ago it was this quiet little town and then all of a sudden the baseball HOF is right in the middle of main st.

    Now for good and for bad, the town is much more commercial.

    Dennis Levy,

    Good points about the Philadelphia Athletics. I think the Philadelphia A's won 5 WS titles and there is no remembrance about those teams by the Oakland A's.

    Good point about Walter Johnson and the Twins. I think Walter Johnson gets some credit from the Nationals but that really doesn't make any sense because they have nothing to do with the old Senators franchise. You can add Goose Goslin to the Twins omission. This also reminds me that the Expos have been erased from the Nationals. Why aren't Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Tim Raines numbers not retired from the Nationals????

    George Sisler is not remembered by the Orioles.

  27. John Q Says:

    Red Ruffing's number 15 really should be retired along with Thurman Munson's #15.

  28. Albanate Says:

    If any of you find yourselves in Cooperstown this fall and have time for something non baseball related, go see the Cardiff Giant at the Farmers Museum. Then see a play about the giant, "The Giant Hoax," performed by the Classic Theater Guild in Schenectady, which is about 60 miles east of Cooperstown. Here's the theater's website:

    Please note that I have no connection to the group--I'm just a fan.

    The Cooperstown area is really great for canoe & kayak trips...getting a bit cold though now.

  29. Rainbow99 Says:

    I visited Cooperstown for the first time during the induction ceremony of 2009. I posted an extensive write up of my autograph hunting experience during that trip. If you are into collecting autographs of HOF members during Induction weekend, or just want to know what it like during that weekend, I've written extensively on what to expect. I have many photos posted of HOFers signing my project.

    It is a real backwater except for that one magical weekend every year.

    Start here and click the link at the end of each page to go to the next day:

    PS- I'm not selling any baseball related stuff on these pages. Its just a day by day diary of my autograph hunting trip last year. Just sharing.

  30. Lou Says:

    I am 36 years old and have been their somewhere around 10 times in my life. I went in July and would go again tomorrow. It is a wonderful place to visit and you can get lost in the museum for days, but at the same time, see enough in a few hours that you can appreciate it completely.

  31. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I am long overdue for a trip back there. Brett Myers, the subject of today's other post, was 11 days old the day I made my one and only trip there (as were three other guys who have pitched in the majors, including Mike O'Connor, a DC/Baltimore area native who was originally drafted by Montreal and was with the franchise long enough to have pitched close to home in DC). A guy who was Myers' teammate for a few years, Ryan Madson, was born on that very day, August 28, 1980. (Another guy who's pitched in the majors who was born that day is T.J. Beam.)

    I've been saying for years that some of the franchises that have moved have not done a good job in remembering their early players, even though they played for the team in other cities. The Dodgers, the Giants, and possibly the Braves seem to be fairly good in this regard.

    When I went to a game in DC this summer, I was pleased to see that they were planning a night to honor Andre Dawson.

  32. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the kind words regarding this post - and to all those sharing about their Cooperstown experiences too!

    I'm working on the next installment now. 😉

    But, keep the comments coming on this one if you want - they're all great.

  33. Zim Says:

    Thanks for the first installment of the Cooperstown trip. I was there as a toddler, or so my mom says, but have not been fortunate enough to make it back.

    As for the Twins recognition of Senators, they never played in Minnesota, so it probably seemed a bit odd to have Walter Johnson, Goose Goslin or Sam Rice recognized here. I DO know they had old pictures of the Big Train and various Presidents throwing out the first pitch in the team offices at the Metrodome. Not sure if those made it over to Target Field.

    The aforementioned HOF'ers as well as many other Senators players are recognized at the Washington Hall of Stars display at Nationals Park.

    The Twins do have an interesting listing of every player to play for them in Minnesota in the plaza outside Target Field.

  34. MikeD Says:

    I've been to Cooperstown and the HOF three times in my life, but I always was traveling with friends or family. That's great, and the way it should be...most of the time. I want to spend so much time in the Hall that the people I'm traveling (who like baseball but don't love it!) have a tendency to get a little bored. The last time I went I pretty much decided I'm going to go by myself for one trip so I can spend as much time as I want in various areas, Your post reminded me of that commitment and inspired me to see it through. I live in New York State, and Cooperstown is withing a three-hour drive, so I'm thinking a late September or early October visit is in order.

  35. MikeD Says:

    Dennis Levy @various -- As someone noted, both Ruffing and Gomez have plaques as part of the Yankees Monument Park, although their numbers aren't retired, and I'm fine with that. Now I'm not sure that actually fits your qualification, since fans have to go out to Monument Park to see the plaques and monuments and retired numbers. Yet I would find it hard to fault the Yankees. They do a very good job (some might say excessive job!) in promoting their history and HOF players, as well as near-great players, both in Monument Park and with pictures in their Great Hall area.

    I hadn't thought about it, but I am surprised that they haven't at least put a plaque for Tony Lazzeri in Monument Park since he was inducted in the HOF in '91. Very unlike George Steinbrenner who was always into promoting history and the Yankee mystique. (The man knew marketing.) I wonder if there are any direct Lazzeri family members around to even attend a Yankee ceremony? They now have the same issue with Joe Gordon, who was also just elected to the HOF. He should honored with a plaque, but I wouldn't retire his number.

  36. Bruce Markusen Says:

    Steve, sorry that I didn't get a chance to see you in Cooperstown this past weekend. I was tied up with duties at our annual Apple Fest event in Fly Creek.

    It's good to hear all of these voices in support of Cooperstown. We just went through our second consecutive down summer with regard to attendance. The town could use a boost. Perhaps posts like this will help us down the line.

  37. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Bruce - no problem, figured you were busy. There's always next time! 😉

    BTW, I played "So you think you know?" when I was there this weekend and got bounced on the 8th question. Again, soooooo close!

    MikeD - My kids are 6 and 8, and can only go for about an hour in any museum. So, early Sunday AM, I went back to the Hall by myself for an hour or so, while my wife and kids packed up at the hotel, and it was great - - no one was there and I could take my time looking at things. I hope you have the same success when you go solo next time.

  38. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #7-9; 11; 14 - on teams retiring numbers: most of the players mentioned in #7(Dennis Levy) played some or all of their careers before uniform numbers were commonly worn. As best I remember, uniform #'s were first used by the Indians in 1929, and by all teams by the mid-30s.

    Also, there's a haphazard policy of teams honoring greats who pre-dated uniforms; while the Tigers honored Cobb and the Pirates honored Wagner, the Indians don't seem to have done anything for Napoleon Lajoie (I don't know if he's been honored otherwise - Indians fans?). There doesn't seem to be any consistent standard policy for retiring uniform #'s - the Astros retired Jim Umbrich, who pitched 143 innings for the Astros over two years, but then died of cancer the next spring. The Angels retired longtime coach Jimmy Reese's #. If teams wish to honor players or organization members for reasons beyond on-field greatness, that's their right.

    OTOH, some clubs have very specific standards. Speaking as a Red Sox follower, I think their standards are TOO restrictive:
    - election to the HOF
    - played ten years w/the Red Sox
    - finished their career w/the Red Sox

    this eliminates these players:
    - Cy Young
    - Jimmy Collins
    - Tris Speaker
    - Harry Hooper (played 12 seasons, but finished w/the White Sox)
    - Jimmy Foxx
    - Lefty Grove
    - Wade Boggs (played 11 seasons, but finished w/the Devil Rays)

    They fudged the rules with Carlton Fisk (gave him a ceremonial "job" shortly before retiring his #), and basically ignored the rules for longtime fan favorite Jonnhy Pesky, who has played/ managed/ scouted/ coached for the Red Sox almost all of his adult life. I'm glad they did, they both deserve it. I wish they'd honor their all-time greats before Ted Williams, especially Cy Young, Tris Speaker, and Jimmy Foxx.

    I visited Cooperstown almost ten years ago; it's a great place to visit, even if you don't agree with all the selections. There's a whole huge museum to explore besides the plaques.

  39. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's particularly odd if Lajoie isn't remembered by Cleveland somehow, since the darn team was named after him for a while.

  40. Friday Links (24 Sep 10) – Ducksnorts Says:

    [...] Visiting Cooperstown [Part 1] (Baseball-Reference). Steve Lombardi shares photos from his recent trip. I’ve visited twice, once in 1988 and again in 2007 for Tony Gwynn’s induction. With any luck, I’ll get out there again when Trevor Hoffman’s turn arrives. Part 2 of Steve’s article is here. [...]

  41. Steve Kuzmiak Says:

    I like the shot of Pioneer Street with the "Tavern". The tavern shown is Cooley's. The better townie bar is directly across the street and is called Shermans. Cooperstown Old Timers will call it "The Pratt" because it used to be the Pratt Hotel. You can go to Cooperstown on the coldest Friday night in January and the entire town will be dead but the loyals will be pounding a few at Shermans. Everybody's goal there is pretty apparent since there are usually cabs parked out front waiting'

    Also, next to Shermans is the Chinese Restaurant Foo-Kin, if nothing else it will give you some juvenile mileage with plays on the name.