Baseball has been played for a very long time, since at least the early-to-mid 19th century. In that century many interesting traditions, techniques and players emerged, no doubt.
However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the sport became America’s “national pastime”. During this period it was common to see Americans regularly pack stadiums and crowd around radios to listen to their favorite teams play.
Names like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle (to name just a few) emerged as Baseball superstars, and in doing so, they became everyday heroes to many Americans.
In short, Baseball became embedded into the popular culture and the very fabric of American society in the 20th century, creating an intense passion for the game among many in the US.
Some would argue that other sports – namely, Football and Basketball – have since overtaken Baseball’s position as the king of American sports. Regardless of your perspective on this argument, it can’t be denied that Baseball has a strong ethos, a powerful magnetism, and a sort of joyful innocence to the game that deeply appeals to many.
I count myself as one of those Americans who is mesmerized by the beauty and history of the game. And no other physical location in the world embodies the wonder of the game quite like the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum located in Cooperstown, New York.
I visited the Hall of Fame a few months ago. If you’ve never been there, then you simply need to know this: Cooperstown is a Baseball dreamland. In addition to the iconic Hall of Fame, there are countless shops and sites scattered across the small New York village which are all dedicated to Baseball.
While in Cooperstown, my sense of boyhood wonder about the game I grew up playing and watching was renewed. There were exhibits containing legendary artifacts from the game’s past which I had only ever seen on TV or in photos. It was amazing to see these things up close and personal.
One of the highlights was visiting the awe inspiring plaque gallery, where every Hall of Famer has a bronze plaque bearing their image and a summary of their accomplishments. I literally spent hours here. It was fantastic.
I also enjoyed the exhibit on movies about Baseball, where you can really take stock of the game’s imprint on American popular culture. There were momentos and features from some of my favorites, like Field of Dreams, Sandlot, and Bull Durham. And there were other Baseball movies that I had never even seen or heard of before!
Right outside of the museum and around the corner is an old Baseball stadium, named Doubleday Field, where games are still actively played. Legend has it that the game of Baseball was actually invented on this very field (which at the time was a cow pasture) by Abner Doubleday. Regardless of the veracity of the story, Doubleday Field’s very presence adds to Baseball’s lore and serves as a mecca to many a ballplayer.
In short, I think that every Baseball fan should visit Cooperstown at least once in their lifetime. However, the bigger point to my post is this: there is a sort of magic about the game of Baseball that is incredibly enticing. This magic is a big part of what made the game a fixture of American society over the last century, and it’s what makes Cooperstown so enchanting even today.
The game of Baseball was – and still is – America’s national pastime, even while other sports increase in general popularity. As time goes on, it is my sincere hope that an increasing number of the younger generation will learn to see Baseball’s magic and develop a love for the game, for the game will not disappoint.
Photos courtesy of Scott Perry
Guest Author Bio
Scott Perry is a Project Manager, a writer, and a Baseball enthusiast living in North Carolina. He writes at catchershome.com, a site dedicated to Baseball and Softball catchers.