During the All-Star break, I had the chance to spend the day in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an unbelievable experience! Baseball is such a huge part of my life, so to be able to see all the guys who are enshrined in the greatest place in baseball history…it was amazing to me.
It’s actually kind of weird how my visit to Cooperstown worked out. I have always wanted to go visit there and it just so happens that my daughter’s camp is in Long Lake, New York, a few hours from there. I was scheduled to go see her on a Tuesday, so I got in on Monday and made the drive out to Cooperstown. The funny thing is that my daughter and wife have already been there. They went when Bert Blyleven got inducted. So they beat me to the Hall!
Anyway, I emailed Hall president Jeff Idelson ahead of time to let him know I’d be coming and although he was away at the All-Star Game, he left me in good hands with his top curator Tom…who gave me an unbelievable tour! One of the first things I went to see was Kirby Puckett’s plaque on the wall. I made sure that I took a picture in front of it because he was instrumental in me becoming the professional baseball player that I am today. He taught me how to be a pro, he taught me how important it is to respect people, the importance of working hard. So that was one of the first places I went.
I also really liked seeing the historical artifacts. Not everybody has the chance to get the private tour, put the white gloves on and hold Babe Ruth’s bat. Or actually see the Babe Ruth promissory note from the Yankees to the Red Sox. I signed a rubber that was sent to Cooperstown for David Wells’ perfect game. And the beanie baby is there too. My picture is also up because I’m the oldest active major leaguer and I have the most appearances of any active major leaguer. It was also pretty cool seeing the pants of one of my coaches (Eric Young, Sr.) in there. His pants are in there for stealing six bases in one game. I took a picture and sent it to him!
Everybody talks about how Pete Rose needs to be in the Hall of Fame. Well I’ll tell you, Pete Rose is actually all over the Hall of Fame. You can’t have the Hall of Fame without Pete. He doesn’t have an actual plaque up there, but when you talk about baseball, Pete Rose is a huge part of it…the good and the bad.
I think the Hall of Fame is perfect where it is. It’s in a small town, which gives it more meaning. I don’t think it would have the same kind of nostalgia that it does if it were outside of Cooperstown. It’s a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere with a beautiful like. It’s perfect. I definitely plan to go back and spend a couple days in town.