You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 30, 2007.

When we exited the Hall of Fame, it was from the library exit on the side of the building. There were several vans and an ESPN booth. I was most interested in the Baltimore news vans: WMAR and WJZY. I felt a little nostalgic. I wanted to tell them I was the hometown girl, come home to see Cal, but resisted, knowing that they wouldn’t be the least bit interested in my story and love for Cal and the Orioles.

Believe it or not, there’s more to Cooperstown than baseball. The town sits at the south end of Lake Otsego and, in addition to being a town of the baseball lovers dreams, it’s also very scenic. The main street is still quaint and has that small town feeling. One can wander down to the lake for a beautiful view of the mountains surrounding the lake. There was a restaurant there with a view, but it was too crowded and we were hungry and parched already, it being nearly 3:30.

We sat in the park for a few minutes to rest our feet and soak in the view. An older man asked if I would trade my Cal t-shirt for his hat. I didn’t even bother looking at his hat, because my answer was immediate and required no thought or consideration, “No way, Honey!” I suppose I might have negotiated if he had an authentic Cal Ripken hat or something, but it turned out to be something uninteresting, like the Cardinals.

There was no shortage of souvenirs in Cooperstown, though, there could have a better selection. There were many Cal t-shirts. Many Gwynn shirts too, but I wasn’t interested in them and didn’t bother looking through the selection.

I survived Hall of Fame weekend, Thanks Cal Cooperstown, in orange, HoF in black with Ripken 8 on the back, blue and white Cooperstown t-shirts. Bats. Baseballs. Baseball cards. Photos. Newspapers, mostly the Baltimore Sun. And of course, stuff for other teams. Whatever.

My pursuit for a souvenir was a bit disappointing. I got three t-shirts, one for my husband, who was sadly lacking anything Cal Ripken, and two for me. I wanted something for my brother, but alas, there wasn’t much to choose from. I really wanted something embroidered and permanent. Something that would never fade or rip, that would last forever. A mug wouldn’t survive the trip home. T-shirts are good though. They’re light-weight and I can proudly sport my love for Cal.

Honestly, what souvenir could satisfactorily capture that *I* was there for Cal’s big day???

A photograph standing beside him perhaps. Otherwise, the t-shirts will have to do.

Instead of going back to the car, we decided to go to the Hall of Fame before the crowds got too wild. Too wild is relative. By now it was about 11ish, and it seemed much later in the day considering how the crowds were swelling in the streets.

We waited in line not an unreasonable amount of time considering the number of people in line. But once inside the building, there was more waiting as the VIPs and members filed in, one after another in a seemingly endless stream, and went ahead of us. Even so, the wait wasn’t bad.

Inside the museum though, I was convinced that fire codes were violated. There were so many people in such a small space. We moved slowly and sluggishly through the rooms, squeezed tightly together. While we usually prefer to read plagues, we became focused on a single goal, seeing as much as possible and escaping the suffocating crowd as quickly as possible. While I would love to have seen more, going leisurely was an impossibility and all I wanted to do was get out.

Still though, I believe I saw most of what I really wanted to see, the All American Girls League (AA…), World Series rings, Orioles cases with the Hall of Famer’s jerseys showcased, Babe Ruth room (albeit very briefly), Cal Ripken’s career corner, and the Hall of Fame plagues. Cal’s corner on the first floor had three walls of career pictures, and a display case with a game scorecard, and other artifacts, that with the mobs of people, shoulder to shoulder, I stopped caring about. Taking a picture required waiting a while so there was enough elbow room to raise the camera to your eye or even a few inches in front of you, and then waiting for whoever else was having their picture taken or lingering too long enjoying the displays to finally get out of the way.

Perhaps my favorite place was the Hall of Plaques. Roomy, breathable, space to walk. And plagues of all the greats. Awesome! Also, at the end of the hall were bathrooms, that were mostly unoccupied and seemingly unknown by the rest of the crowd.

Saturday started early. There was no way I wanted to miss any of the Cooperstown experience. I was so excited to be there and could barely contain my enthusiasm. Since parking in town was hard to come by with record setting crowds, the plan was to arrive early, see what there was to see, and then perhaps squeeze in a brewery tour. I wanted my husband to have a good time too, and as a Brit, baseball is just not his thing.

Here’s how it actually went.

We left the campground around 6:30 am. As I climbed into the tent Friday night, I made sure I had my clothes for Saturday with me. Apart from the moisture from the humidity, my clothes stayed dry despite hours of pouring rain throughout the night. Saturday morning I emerged from the tent dressed and ready to go. I was able to apply eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick quickly from the passenger’s seat.

We arrived in Cooperstown hoping for, but not expecting any parking anywhere within the town center, even though it was only 7 am. Unbelievably, we did find a spot right in town, about four blocks from the Hall of Fame. The streets were already buzzing with activity, with hundreds of people milling about, vendors set up with tables on the streets, selling mostly Cal paraphernalia, but also Tony Gwynn souvenirs and Cooperstown memorabilia. Starving for breakfast, we passed up the bakery displaying donuts and muffins for the Doubleday Cafe, which offered a hot delicious breakfast for a steal of a price. The wait at 7 am was already 20 minutes, and the restaurant was packed with diners already elbow deep in a coffee, pancakes, and scrambled eggs.

When we did get seated, we had a good, hearty breakfast, eggs, whole wheat toast, coffee, potatoes, all for under $12 for two people.

Next, our plan was to wander around Cooperstown to see what the vendors had, then go to the Hall of Fame, see about autographs, etc. Because there’s so much to report, I’ll do it in sections…

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