Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hope, Memory

Today I went with Brent from The Bronx Block and my friend Dan D. to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, New York.

It was the third time I've been, but the first time I went with people as interested in baseball as I am, and, without the summer crowd, we were able to take in everything, and appreciate all of it.

Going through all of the exhibits, there were two things that came to mind:

Hope, and memory.

Hope. The hope at the beginning of a season. The hope at the beginning of a game. The hope at the beginning of an inning. The hope of a single at bat. The hope of a single swing. The hope, in the end, that summer will come again.

Memory. Memory of the game's beginning, when it cost no more than $.50 to see a game. Memory of when it was free.

Hope. The hope that maybe somewhere, somehow, you'll be able to play in the bigs. It won't matter what color your skin is, or what gender you are; the only thing that will count is how well you play the game.

Memory. Memory of moments that passed us by--the Polo Grounds. Ebbets Field. Comiskey Park. The Washington Senators. Boston Braves. St. Louis Browns.

The memory of hope. The hope of memory.

It's not just baseball.

It's America.

Some pictures, and explanations.

It starts with a sword.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, it snowed, and iced. A lot. To the point that it buried my car. So, today being the designated Cooperstown day, I had to scrape the ice off my car. I have an ice scraper thingie, but after fifteen unsuccessful minutes, something had to be done to speed the process up--Cooperstown is a two hour ride through rural upstate NY from Syracuse.

So I remembered that I had a sword, and suggested to Brent that we try using the sword. He was worried I'd break the sword. I was worried I'd dent the car. I was REALLY careful, believe it or not.

However, as it turned out, the sword worked marvelously to break up the ice on the top and then the scraper was able to brush the rest off. However, by this time it was getting a little late, so instead of putting the sword back in my apartment, I tossed it in the back seat.

Not the most brilliant idea ever, but a functional one.

So after that fun adventure, we picked Dan up at his dorm, and drove the two uneventful hours to Cooperstown.

When we got there, we had to find a place to park, and as I'm utterly afraid of parking tickets, we ended up parking way down by the lake. It was gorgeous in the winter snow.

(Dan and myself, credit Brent Nycz)

It was then that Brent decided he wanted a picture of himself with the sword, and I was happy to oblige as swords really are that awesome.

While holding the sword, Brent made a comment about how he was holding the sword a là Paul O'Neill, his favorite Yankee. He started to swing the sword like a bat, and the thought came to him that it'd be pretty cool to turn the sword into a bat given the location and occasion.

It was then that Dan produced a shiny, green apple.

So the stage was set: Game seven, 2008 ALCS, Jonathan Paplebon (played by Dan) versus an unretired Paul O'Neill (Brent in the Oscar performance of his life), and myself, fellow picture-taker.

The first pitch was a foul ball, as Brent sliced the top off of it. Literally.

The second pitch was a...well, what do you call it when you slice an apple completely in half with a sword?

Brent says it's the 'Shot That Sliced The Big Apple In Two'

At this point, we decided it was getting a little chilly, and our best bet was to make the short walk to the Hall of Fame and venture inside. Thus we did. We did put the sword back in the car, for those of you curious.

Dan used his AAA membership card to get us each a $1.00 discount on the admission price. Cool stuff.

Now, as you probably know, I like old things. Lucky for me, the HoF is arranged in a mostly chronological order, so it's like taking a journey through history.


All right, now, so we start with the game's beginnings (Doubleday may, or may have not, actually invented the game).

The oldest surviving baseball for a scheduled game. I don't know about you, but it reminds me more of a shot-put ball than a baseball...then again, people 150 years ago also believed women shouldn't vote or run for office, so who knows what they thought.

Old woolen Reds jersey. I can knit in wool, but I've never made a baseball jersey.

The tools of ignorance, old style. I'm not sure about you, but given Yogi, et al, I think catchers are probably some of the smartest guys on the team. They just also happen to be slight masochists, but that's the spice of life.

Oldest surviving baseball contract known to exist. I doubt those guys knew just quite what they were starting...I can imagine them now, coming back from the other side, looking at each other and going "oops."

Babe Ruth's bat. It's actually fairly small for a bat, but at the same time...dude, it's Babe's Ruth bat. I mean, that's like saying it's Harry Potter's wand or Frodo's ring, except that Babe Ruth actually existed. Maybe it's more like King Arthur's sword. Oh, fictional again? Damn. Umm. Sorry, I'm at a loss for a reasonable comparison.

Babe's glove. Personally, I'm more impressed in the bat, but if you wanted to get me this for my birthday I wouldn't complain. It's like asking if I'd rather go to France or Spain. I'd prefer Spain (because I can semi-speak Spanish and they have better swords), but I wouldn't say no to France under any circumstances.

Myself in front of Babe's locker. The back of my shirt is actually blank, so I don't have to worry about players leaving or getting traded; as long as the Yankees don't suddenly move to Boston, I'm set.

Brent at Babe Ruth's locker. It was really that awesome.

Babe Ruth's original contract with the Red Sox. We know what happened next.

Chicago White Sox apparel and equipment from the Black Sox era. LET SHOELESS JOE INTO THE HALL! Ahem. Anyway, could you imagine if a Black Sox-ish scandal came about today? It'd blow 'roids out of the water.

Part of the exhibit on the Negro Leagues. It is utterly amazing how much the story of baseball is like the story of America, unified after the Civil War. Maybe that's why this game means so damned much to us.

Jackie Robinson's apparel and equipment. If there was ever a saint in baseball, it's him. Or maybe it's Rickey, for signing him. Or Landis for telling them that for all he cared they could sign 25 black players. Or maybe it was all three, coming together, to do what should have been done at the game's start.

I just like the pink.

Anyway, it's at this point that my wonderful camera, home to over 2520 pictures, decided that it was time for the battery to decide it wanted to be recharged, so thus all following pictures are credit Brent Nycz, some rights reserved

There's no cryin' in baseball! Okay, I lie. There's actually quite a lot. Mostly from me but maybe from you on occasion as well.

The Yankees have a lot of stuff in the Hall of Fame. But you know that.

Bats from Tino Martinez and Aaron Boone. Tino's bat he used in game four of the 2001 World Series, when had that two-out-bottom-nine-down-by-two home run that sent the Stadium in a frenzy. I am, however, slightly surprised they don't have Brosius's bat from when he repeated the feat the next night. As for Aaron Boone, well, you know why that bat's there. I really shouldn't need to elaborate.

A-Rod's batting helmet from when he hit 500. I can't wait for them to have his batting helmut when he hits the WS-winning grand slam to close out the old stadium.


Hit this. Or, as it were, don't.

I can hear my dad yelling from so far away: get your hands off the glass!. But dude, they're so shiny....

There's gaudy. There's ostentatious. And then there's the 2003 Florida Marlins World Series ring.

The bloody sock doesn't, in fact, look all that bloody in person. Still, though, Joe, why didn't you BUNT?!

The three of us. I'll let you guess who's who, and if you can't get it, you probably don't read PBP very often. I guess it's not that often that you get two Yankee fans and a Red Sox fan sitting together, all smiling and not actually chanting 19-18 or whathaveyou. I know the black and red scarf I'm wearing is huge, but a) I made it, b) it's warm, c) it was 18F outside.

Vaca Sagrada.

They were ball players, not saints, but if not for them, we would not have the memories. Some are hope, some are memory, but all knew it was more than a ball and a stick.

For some moments, the less words, the better.

A photo of part of the original payment from the you-know-whom to the you-know-whom in you-know-when for you-know-who, which spawned the you-know-what.

The Hall of Fame, as seen from the outside.

So the Hall of Fame was a great experience, and once again I was a sucker for the gift shop, as I purchased a shot glass (I collect them) and a Yankees' Hall of Fame members' shirt (and I hope it fits).

Despite this, there was one caveat: Having left Syracuse at 11 AM and gone to Cooperstown stopping only for five minutes to get fast food/vending machine food, and then staying in Hall of Fame until near closing (at five in the winter), we were hungry.

Okay, hungry is an understatement. I felt like my insides were eating themselves for want of food, which may have been a little more graphic than you wanted, so I apologize.

Anyway, we headed to the Doubleday Cafe, which was very decent, and hey, we saw highlights of SYRACUSE BEATING GEORGETOWN! GO ORANGE!

After about four or five giant glasses of water, I had to use the restroom. To my amusement, the restroom had a chalkboard...and chalk. So I drew.

(I did not draw the kitty, alas, but the url to this blog and the 'let's go yankees', completely my idea.)

I came out of the restroom and mentioned it to Brent, and then Brent decided to do a similar thing, linking to his blog. Seeing as his url is easier to remember (sorry!) and his handwriting is a lot neater, I expect he'll get a lot more hits.

So there you have it. After that, it was a two hour ride back to Syracuse and whatnot. I could elaborate on what I've done since getting back to Syracuse with Brent, who's come up from New York to spend the weekend, but as it's mostly meaning 'this post', I'll spare you.

I know I owe a Season update, but this post took two hours to write, so the Season update is going to wait till tomorrow afternoon. Don't worry, it's written, but hopefully you all will enjoy this.

The Hall of Fame is an amazing experience under any circumstance, but for something really special, bring a couple friends that are as big of fans as you are, of the same team or your most hated rival. Come on a frozen winter day when the snow coats everything. Park down by the lake. Stay until closing, and revel in the definitely-not-filled-to-capacity galleries. Get up so close to Babe Ruth's bat, if just for that little bit of plexiglass, you could touch immortality.

Swords are optional.


  1. I won't ask why you have a sword, lol. Great pics...I haven't been to Cooperstown since '78. Guess its time to go back!

  2. Hi Rebecca, I loved the pix. Where did you get the sword? I remember the first time I went to HOF as a kid.. wow.

  3. Terrific pictures, Rebecca. Glad to see they still have the Cow! Did they also still have a Mets cow?

  4. Hi Rebecca, saw on the Lohud blog about your trip to Cooperstown and came to see your pictures and read about your trip. Great pictures. Thanks for the memories.

  5. Mantlemurcer: You should go. They have an exhibit on today's game which is really sweet.

    Larry--Got it at a Ren Fair in Maryland last October.

    Doreen--Brent says no.

    Fran--Welcome! =D

  6. I hope it's still there, but if you would have went up 28 a couple miles, there was a restaurant called the Red Sleigh that had great wiener schnitzel.

  7. Great pics, Rebecca. There were some exhibits I didn't see when I went up to Cooperstown in the summer of 2005 but every thing seems like the same.

  8. sweet looks like it would be pretty cool for someone who loved baseball. looks like it would be kinda expensive