Chicago White Sox Fan Guide to Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown

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The Chicago White Sox, via Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox affair of the 1919 World Series, brought us the most interesting and captivating moment in baseball history. They, along with the gamblers, also inspired the greatest book and movie in baseball history.

With this in mind, you knew there was going to be representation at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Gambling is big now, especially at uudet nettikasinot, so maybe it’s time to rethink the Black Sox? We’ve covered that in previous post yesterday, which you can read over at this link, so now we’ll take a look at what else White Sox fans need to see and experience when they visit the Hall of Fame.

Why is the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown of All Places?

Way back towards the beginning of the 20th century, a corporate tycoon named Spalding, yes of the ballmaker Spalding, wanted to establish the idea of baseball as an inherently and uniquely American game. (Spoiler alert: it’s actually kind of not). He then commissioned a totally b.s. “historical commission” who came up with the lie that General Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York.

Meanwhile, Doubleday himself never claimed that he invented the game, and the modern version of what we know today as baseball, with the organization, format and rules etc. was started by Alexander Cartwright in 1845 at the Knickerbocker club in Manhattan.

However, a rich powerful sporting goods salesman wanted a bucolic fantasy centered around a Civil War hero, so he created one.

 

Then somebody found an old-timey baseball in a tree on the Graves farm in upstate New York. Supposedly, General Abner Graves (apparently, Abner was a very popular name back then) played baseball with Doubleday in this rural town on Otsego Lake, and this artifact was deemed “historical” and “proof” of baseball’s birth.

Why Does the Lie Persist Today?

In the 1930s, a rich and powerful Wall St. financier named Stephen C. Clark called upon his connections in Major League Baseball, Ford Frick who was then National League Commissioner. The legendary broadcaster and sportswriter, who would later go on to become MLB Commissioner, took Clark’s idea to hold an annual MLB festival and All-Star Game in the town and then conceived the baseball museum idea.

Clark and Frick are basically the two fathers of the baseball hall of fame, and as such oil painting portraits of both men reside near the entrance today.

How do you get there/what’s it like?

Cooperstown, a town of about 1,700 people is nestled on a gorgeous lake in the middle of the scenic Adirondacks. It’s a tiny village in the middle of absolutely nowhere and it’s extremely inconvenient to get to. There are three airports you can fly into- Albany, Syracuse of Binghamton, an then drive about an hour and half, and change from any of those destinations.

I choose Albany, and I highly recommend it because then your drive there is on Scenic Byway 20, which lives up to the hype and then some. Just be careful of all the deer at night.

Once in Cooperstown, you’ll have a visiting Colonial Williamsburg kind of experience- you’re transported to another place stuck in time from long ago.

Cooperstown Main Street Level

The gist of level one is pretty much the Hall of Fame gallery. It’s really the only thing you need to see on this level (Although the one room art museum is really nice too), as it’s the collection of plaques of the diamond’s all-time most immortal figures. It’s what you think of first when you think of Cooperstown, as this is what we always see on television.

For White Sox fans, be sure to check out the plaques belonging to: Frank Thomas, Luke Appling, Charles Comiskey, Red Faber, Ted Lyons, Goose Gossage, Harold Baines, Hoyt Wilhelm, Luis Aparicio, Bill Veeck and more.

Also, go check out Tony La Russa’s plaque with the non-affiliated hat.

Cooperstown Level 2 the Main Stage

It’s the meat and potatoes of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it’s the level where just everybody begins their individual self-guided tour. Be sure to see the hideously ugly short pants and polo collared Sox uniforms of the late ’70s and early ’80s, which were in use for the infamous Disco Demolition night, an event that just turned 40.

Steve Dahl’s military helmet from the promotion gone off-the-rails is here! For more on Disco Demolition night, check out our Let’s Get Weird, Sports podcast on the topic. Also, be sure to stop by the section on the history of Latinos in baseball.

There’s an interesting write-up on the Go-Go Sox of the ’50s and ’60s, a team much like your 2019 version, which was built around mostly Hispanic players.

Cooperstown Museum Upper Deck

A lot of people don’t make it to level three, and if they do, they don’t spend a lot of time there. That’s really unfortunate as there’s a whole lot to see in the ballparks section and the new baseball card exhibit, which includes the rarest most valuable baseball cards that you can possibly fathom.

There is also an exhibit devoted entirely to the World Series, and all the Sox appearances are covered.

You’ll also want to see one of the original pinwheels, from the first “exploding scoreboard” at Comiskey Park.

All in all, and I say this after now having been to the baseball, football, college football, basketball, hockey and bowling hall of fames, Cooperstown is the biggest and best one.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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