Random Cooperstown: 10 Obscure Objects to See in the Baseball Hall of Fame


There will be a time when museums are open again, and we’ll all be free to enjoy them. That time is not next week, or next month, but it will return. For now, well as Albert Camus wrote on page 67 of The Plague: “once the town gates were shut, every one of us realized that all…were, so to speak, in the same boat, and each would have to adapt himself to the new conditions of life.”

That’s now, the rest of this month, and probably May as well, but in time public events will return and destinations like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York will re-open. When they do, I highly encourage to get out and roam. Definitely go to Cooperstown! I went last August and I wrote up the experience here and here.

When you get there, I encourage you to go see these 10 random, unique, some might even say “obscure” items in the hall.

1. The First Ball Thrown in the 1919 World Series

“Tell Cicotte to hit the first batter if the fix is on.” That’s the classic line you know and love from one of the greatest baseball books and movies ever made, Eight Men Out. When White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte (whose pocket watch is also on display in the hall) started the fall classic with a hit batsman, it was the signal to the gamblers that this series will indeed be not on the level. More on all of that here and here.

2. The Record of Fernandomania

You can find an old 45 (that’s a record, the music thinggees that preceded cassette tapes, tapes were what we had before compact discs, CDs were what was around before MP3s) that was sold at Dodger Stadium during the height of Fernando Valenzuela’s popularity.

In the words of Abba:

I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight Fernando

3. The San Diego Chicken

There is perhaps no greater mascot in baseball, or perhaps sports history, and his suit is on display here.

4. “No Lights” at Wrigley Field Sign

Remember when baseball didn’t have night games all the time? What about when Wrigley Field didn’t even have light fixtures? Yes, I’m old! Lakeview/Wrigleyville residents

5. The “Steroid Wing” of the Hall of Fame

My next piece for Sports Illustrated focuses on this one specific display case in the hall, which spotlights all the players exposed/suspected of doing PEDs. You can read that here.

6. Hack Wilson Getting Body-Shamed

See below (and listen to our podcast at this link)

7. The Gorgeous Green and Gold of Charles O. Finley’s Oakland Athletics 

When Oakland Athletics Charles O. Finley assumed control of his club, he noted that every home team wore only white and all road teams wore drab, dull grey. (That returned in full force in 1987) In the 1960s he broke that mold into a million little pieces with his forest green and mustard yellow motif.

All we can say, is good for him

8. Foam Glove from Mitt Romney ’08 Campaign

Hey, stick to sports!!!

No, of course not, never stick to sports! I voted against Mitt, and even I say express yourself. Mr. “if you have a net worth of <$200,000 you’re poorer than average” is really the only politician/presidential candidate represented with any artifiact in the hall.

And it’s an ’08 propaganda piece, the election that he didn’t even win the nomination (it wasn’t until ’12), but there are some small political baseball cards in front of the display here.

9. The so Hideous it’s Beautiful Houston Astros Jersey of the 1980s

The Arkanoid, Atari style rainbow, tequila sunrise jerseys are so ’80s…that now they’re back again, with numerous college programs employing this style and scheme in their uniforms.

Ah for the halcyon days when the Astros were known for ugly ass uniforms and choking in the playoffs, not as being the biggest cheating scoundrels the sport has ever seen.


10. The Pinwheel of the Exploding Scoreboard at Comiskey Park

When it comes to baseball owners, no one was a better promoter/marketer/showman than Bill Veeck. The man who brought us the Disco Demolition Night disaster, who literally ashed the cigarettes he was smoking in his artificial peg leg, started the “exploding scoreboard” trend. A pinwheel from it is on display upstairs in the ballpark quirk section.

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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