The Cooperstown Experience

Benjamin Haas |

Many people create bucket lists, a series of experiences or events they would identify as “must dos” in their life, or goals for experiences to have before they “kick the bucket” (which is a horrible term – don’t look up its origin). John Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made the bucket list famous in their 2007 movie where as two terminally ill men, they escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.  

I don’t have a bucket list per se, but as I thought about a meaningful Christmas gift for my Dad this past year, going to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown felt like a bucket list type of experience we could share. So, I got us tickets and on 4/2/24 we set out for the Hall!  

It was a rainy day, but a pretty easy drive through New York. What first struck me was how remote Cooperstown feels. We came to learn that it is a town of only 2,000 – which means on any given busy day at the Hall of Fame, there are more visitors walking through the exhibits than live in the town! There is far more farmland and aged homes than business and commerce outside of town. We couldn’t even find a sandwich shop on the way home. But as your turn down the Main Street, baseball themed shop after baseball themed shop paves the way to the historic Hall of Fame building. 

My Dad said it best – it was neat to think about all the famous players and icons who have walked through those doors. It had a special feel to know we stood where those men stood. Getting there around 11:00am, we had some time to explore the Hall ourselves and read through lots of the exhibits on the 2nd floor. The history of baseball, going all the way back to its origins are outlined as one room flows into the other. It’s fascinating to reflect on how the game started, how the rules and focuses changed over time. We spent the better part of 2 hours slowly walking through the 1800s and the early 1900s of baseball, reading about players and dynasties, key moments in the game and key moments in history.  

So much of American history and culture is wrapped up in baseball over time. Some of baseball’s most famous players were also celebrities and household names. Some of its most memorable moments are in history books and depicted in movies. As Michael McMaster wrote in a piece about the globalization of the sport “baseball is much more than a sport. It is a tradition, passed down from generations, woven into the beautiful fabric of American society.” More than just pictures and words, the Hall tells these stories with actual historical pieces, uniforms and gloves, baseballs and ball caps, trophies, and newspapers. It’s quite remarkable! 

We were then given a 90-minute guided tour of all three levels of the hall of fame, back tracking through some of what we already viewed, but this time with stories and context from our tour guide. Joe guided us through the rest of the exhibits on the second floor, where we moved from the middle of the 20th century into the 21st. The third floor highlighted many of baseball’s most famous records and the other parts of baseball too, like its ballparks and collectors’ items. We ended back on the first floor where the plaques of the best players to ever play the game are displayed.  

One day was not enough time to truly read and absorb it all. I would love to go back. The best part to me, were the stories we were told. The stories behind the pictures, behind the pieces, the context for that place and that time in baseball and in the world. Baseball brings back a lot of childhood memories for me, and I’m glad I had that experience with my father. I can’t wait to go back again someday!  


Investment advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor. Great Valley Advisor Group and Haas Financial Group are separate entities. This is not intended to be used as tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax or legal professional for specific information and advice. 

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