Baseball's best shine in the Hall of Fame (photos)
Road Trip 2010: After a lifetime as a fan, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman finally makes it to Cooperstown.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.--To any baseball fan, the name "Cooperstown" means just one thing: The Hall of Fame.
Nestled into this tony town deep in upstate New York state, the Hall of Fame is a true treasure trove of baseball memorabilia and a celebration of the best players who ever put on a uniform.
Though he is a lifelong fan, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman had never been to Cooperstown before, so when putting together Road Trip 2010, he made a point of scheduling a stop at the famous museum.
Throughout the building are mementos of the game's glorious past--and of some of its scandals as well.
But the display shown here is a recollection of one of the game's best and brightest: Ted Williams, the Red Sox great, who treated hitting like a science. "On each of the 77 baseballs displayed [here]," a sign at the Hall of Fame reads, Williams "has assigned a batting average. Each indicates what he believes his own average would be if pitches were delivered in these areas of his strike zone."
In 1951, the New York Giants' Bobby Thomson broke Brooklyn Dodgers fans hearts forever with his pennant-winning "Shot Heard 'Round the World," a home run that sent the Giants to the World Series. Here are the bat, hat, and spikes Thomson was wearing when he hit the home run.
In its library, the Hall of Fame keeps a tremendous collection of archival documents--more than 3 million in all.
One amazing set of documents is in this book, a 1951 set of game-by-game stats from box scores for every player in the National League. This page shows Bobby Thomson's stats for the end of the year, including his batting line from the last regular season game of the season--the pennant-winning game against the Dodgers when he hit his "Shot Heard 'Round the World."
The heart of the Hall of Fame is the gallery of plaques celebrating each member of the Hall. Perhaps no player best represents what the history of the game is about than Babe Ruth, whose plaque is seen here.
This is the bat that Babe Ruth is said to have used to hit his famous "called shot" in the third game of the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, and the ball that he hit for his last career homer, number 714, on May 25, 1935.
This could be the single most famous--and valuable--baseball collectible ever, a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card. Once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky, the card is said to be worth more than $3 million.
This is the baseball that San Francisco Giants great Barry Bonds hit for his 756th career home run, on August 7, 2007, which broke the all-time record for homers, previously held by Hank Aaron since 1974.
"The fan who caught the ball put it up for auction, with [fashion designer] Marc Ecko purchasing it on September 15, 2007.
"For the next eight days, Ecko polled fans in an Internet vote, asking participants to select one of three options: A) Bestow the ball intact to Cooperstown, B) Permanently brand the ball with an asterisk before sending it to Cooperstown, or C) Launch it into space forever.
"More than 10 million votes were cast, with 47 percent of the vote in favor of branding the ball before sending it to Cooperstown....While nearly half the votes supported branding the ball with an asterisk, Bonds has never tested positive for steroids in testing conducted by Major League Baseball.
"Though the [Hall of Fame] does not condone altering artifacts, this baseball was accepted because of its historical significance."
As part of its archives, the Hall of Fame's library has a file on every single ballplayer who ever played in a Major League game. For Babe Ruth, the files are inches thick and include this one, which is devoted entirely to the legend of his called "shot," in the 1932 World Series.
The files are comprised mainly of newspaper clippings, though many of the clippings are copies.
In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers brought on a young African-American player named Jackie Robinson, finally breaking the color barrier and integrating the Major Leagues. Robinson went on to have a Hall of Fame career, though he spent the first years of that career being hounded by racism.
A ticket to the 1919 World Series, in which several members of the heavily favored Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The team did lose and became known as the Black Sox. Those involved in the plot were banned from the game forever.
Though baseball is a sport dominated by men, women have had some impact on the game. The Hall of Fame commemorates that impact with its exhibit "Diamond Dreams." But no woman has ever played in the Major Leagues.
A set of uniforms from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which began during World War II, when many Major League players were at war. The league was a hit, outlasting the men's return, and it was the subject of the Penny Marshall film "A League of their Own," starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks.
Livan and Orlando Hernandez were two Cubans who made it to America and became stars in the Major Leagues. Their uniforms are seen here as part of the "Viva Baseball" exhibit celebrating the participation of Latin American players.
This stone from Brooklyn's Ebbets Field is a reminder of the fact that the Dodgers once played--and were cherished in--Brooklyn. After the 1957 season, they moved to Los Angeles. Their one-time neighbors, the New York Giants, moved at the same time to San Francisco.
One of the most feared modern baseball dynasties was the Big Red Machine, the mid-1970s-era Cincinnati Reds, which featured all-time hit king Pete Rose, catcher Johnny Bench, second baseman Joe Morgan, and many other stars. Bench and Morgan are in the Hall of Fame, while Rose is permanently banned for having bet on the game while manager of the Reds at the end of his record-breaking career.