The hills roll out from the tiny little hamlet nestled away in the mountains of central New York which in June of 1936 gave birth to the shrine of baseball immortality.
Christy Mathewson (top left), Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson (bottom left) and Ty Cobb were the first five Hall of Fame inductees in June of 1936.
Yesterday thousands gathered for the 76th time to pay homage to the two latest immortal designates, as Ron Santo and Barry Larkin took their place among baseball’s elite, the all time greats.
Otsego Lake, Cooperstown NY. (Frank Forte photo)
Cooperstown sits upon Otsego Lake and is home to 1,852 official residents. However on a weekend in July each year it holds a festival of baseball which brings thousands to their doors, thousands who hold something deep and abiding in common, a love and a passion for America’s pastime.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be a part of that festival of love and in such a place, at such a time I could not be disappointed.
Augers Books is located on Main Street and is but a few doors down from the Hall of Fame.
Kerry, David and I spent the morning here and took the opportunity to meet many of the folks who had made the trek for the induction. They were young and they were old; each driven by an individual tale of why they were there and each tale driven by a love for Ron Santo, for Barry Larkin and above all, for baseball.
There is joy in sharing a passion and there is a purity in the energy created by that joy. Among my favorites was the little boy who walked by wearing a Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt and cap, he must have been about eight or nine years old. Well I must tell you, I tested the lad with a trivia question which was not an easy one for a youngin and the question was this; “What was the name of the Brewers in their first year of existence” and without missing a beat the kid said “the Seattle Pilots” inducing a cheer from the folks passing by and a high-five from David, Kerry and I.
Then there was a lady, by herself, from a small Gulf Coast town in Texas. A retired history teacher, she was wearing a Ron Santo jersey and she regaled us with a story of how she became a fan of the Cubs and how they became a part of yearly lessons thus creating more Cub fans. Her passion drove her to be in the hamlet to share in the joy of Santo taking his posthumous place among the game’s immortals.
There was a Red Sox flair to the proceedings as many a Red Sox fan stopped by to say hello and check out Images of Fenway Park. I was struck by the number of Yankee fans who actually purchased the book saying they were simply baseball fans. Some were almost apologetic in declaring their love for the pinstripes. It really spoke to me about the universality of the love of the game, the love of Fenway Park and its revered place in baseball history. There was even one guy who said “they lost me when they tore down “the stadium”.
The streets emptied, as induction time drew near and it was time for a stroll up the street and a visit to the immortal cathedral. There was a special flavor to this visit as I was sharing it with my two oldest off spring. It was the inaugural visit for my eldest which required the obligatory photo next to the Yaz plaque and I now have a photo with each of the gremlins next to my favorite all time great!
Daughters one and two with Yaz.
And of course we had to stop by and say hello to the Splendid Splinter.
Ted and Us.
And what would a trip to the hall be without saying hi to the greatest of the greats?
Yours Truly, Kerry and David with the Babe.
I must confess to a transgression. I actually crossed over the line, I hopped the ropes to take a moment to stand with these two guys….Sorry I couldn’t resist.
George, me and Theodore.
I have contended for years that the heart of America is this great enduring game of baseball and its soul lay in Cooperstown New York. If you love this game or even if you just love someone who loves this game, you owe it to you and them to make a visit to the hamlet, make a visit and simply join in what is truly a festival of love.
Remember…..It’s all about relationships!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history July 23, 2012.