Visit Cooperstown, New York, to experience a quintessential American small town and the world-class National Baseball Hall of Fame. See memorabilia from baseball heroes of yesterday and today as you learn the story of baseball and how it intertwines with the story of America. Visit Doubleday Field, where some of the first baseball games were played. Shop on Main Street for specialty items and souvenirs. When the weather is nice, have lunch overlooking Otsego Lake, and end your perfect day with a boat cruise on the Glimmerglass Queen. Listen to an accompanying podcast by clicking on the audio bar at the end of this post.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The highlight of visiting Cooperstown, New York, is a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, even if you are not a huge baseball fan. See memorabilia from baseball legends, including Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Hank Aaron. Learn about the history of the United States through exhibits about women in baseball, the African-American baseball experience, the bilingual Latin American baseball display, and even the role of baseball in supporting the war efforts during World War II. See the World Series Trophy replica, World Series rings, as well as other artifacts and electronic displays depicting the life and times of baseball past and present. Then, enter the hallowed Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery to honor the greatest players of all time.
Entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Before you enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, take a minute to take some pictures at the entrance as you reflect on the significance of where you are standing. Thousands of fans attended the opening right here on June 12, 1939. On that day, the museum opened in a centennial celebration, 100 years after some of the nation’s first baseball games were played at nearby Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Plaques honoring early inductees, including the 1936 First Class of National Baseball Hall of Fame members Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner were placed on the walls of the museum. Each year, in July, new members are elected annually and join the ranks of baseball’s greatest here at Cooperstown.
Now, enter the museum, purchase your tickets in the entrance foyer, and get your hand stamped in case you decide to come back to the museum throughout the day. Then, make your way to the second floor. Walk through the Locker Room exhibit, where every major league baseball team is represented in one “clubhouse” with photographs, artifacts, and video clips.
Then, enter the Grandstand Theater to view the 20-minute introductory film, “Generations of the Game”. This excellent film will set the tone for your visit as an appreciation of baseball and the role of baseball in America. It is shown hourly beginning at 10 am for most of the year, and it is shown every 30 minutes in the summer.
After viewing the film, walk through the rooms on the second floor and then the third floor where you will learn about the evolution of baseball over the years through exhibits. Exhibits feature historical artifacts and displays include women in baseball, the African-American baseball experience, and information about Latin American baseball players. Be sure to see these highlights:
Taking the Field: The 19th Century
Learn about the beginnings of baseball in the room, “Taking the Field: The 19th Century”. Here, be sure to look for the first catcher’s mask, the ball from the first game at which admission was charged, and the oldest surviving baseball uniform.
Babe Ruth: His Life and Legend
This exhibit displays artifacts from the life and legend of Babe Ruth. A special highlight is the jersey that was featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Nat Fein photo of Ruth standing on the field on June 13, 1948, when Ruth’s No. 3 was officially retired.
Lou Gehrig Memorabilia
The display case of Lou Gehrig Memorabilia includes the 1939 letter from the Mayo Clinic explaining why he could no longer play the game. The letter explains his diagnosis with the neurological disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), that quickly came to be known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.
Moe Berg, Big League Spy
Don’t miss the special exhibit, “Moe Berg, Big League Spy,” that will be on display through spring of 2019. Although Morris “Moe” Berg played 15 years in Major League Baseball, retiring in 1939, he is best known for his work off the field as a spy for the United States. He was an average catcher with a brilliant mind. He held degrees from Princeton University and Columbia Law School, and he spoke 16 languages!
According to Dan Schlossberg, writing a review in Forbes Magazine of the June 2018 movie made about Moe Berg, “The Catcher Was a Spy,” Moe even made the All-Star team once when, in 1934, “the U.S. government attached him to a squad of players led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a post-season tour of Japan. As depicted in the movie, Berg walked into a hospital, sneaked past security onto the roof, and filmed Tokyo Bay and surrounding military targets.” Moe’s pictures were used by Colonel Jimmy Doolittle as he planned air raids over Japan during World War II. Moe’s baseball card hangs in the headquarters of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to this day.
Read more about Moe Berg in Schlossberg’s article here:
Pete Rose Display
Although Pete Rose is still ineligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to betting on baseball games, he does have a display in the Cooperstown museum. Look for more than a dozen of his items. These include the spikes he wore on September 11, 1985, when he broke Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits, along with a scoresheet and video of the record-breaking hit.
Hank Aaron Gallery
The Hank Aaron Gallery, on the third floor of the museum, chronicles Henry Aaron’s life, from childhood, through his baseball career, as well as his post-baseball leadership. The exhibit includes the bat and ball used to hit home run 714, which tied Babe Ruth, as well as the ball hit for his 755th homerun. Also, look for the uniform Hank Aaron wore when he hit his 715th homerun displayed alongside his locker. Don’t miss the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States of America, awarded to Aaron in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
World Series Trophy Replica
Also on the third floor, look for the World Series Trophy replica donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by George Steinbrenner, who was principal owner of the New York Yankees. He donated this replica in 1996, following the World Series win by the team. The 27 World Series wins by the Yankees are the most wins by any team.
World Series Rings
Look for the World Series rings near the World Series Trophy replica. Here, see championships rings from almost every World Series winner over the years.
The Art of Baseball
Walk down the stairs or take the elevator to the first floor to visit the room, “The Art of Baseball,” displaying paintings, sculptures, and other art works reflecting highlights of baseball. Highlights of the collection include works by Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol. Be sure to see the large painting by LeRoy Neiman, “Hall of Famer”.
Artist Rhoda Sherbell created the sculpture of New York Mets manager Casey Stengall in 1965. Stengall lent her his uniform and shoes as the artist worked to produce an authentic rendering of the legendary manager.
For more about “The Art of Baseball” collection, check out the official link here:
Also on the first floor, the New Inductees gallery highlights the accomplishments and memorabilia of the current year’s class of Hall of Fame honorees. This year, my favorite, Chipper Jones was inducted, so this was a real highlight for me!
Hall of Fame Gallery
Finally, enter the hallowed Hall of Fame Gallery to see the plaques of the greatest players ever in the history of baseball. Walk by the plaques of greats, including Jackie Robinson (pictured here).
Look for the plaques of the honorees of the First Class of inductees in the center. To the right, you will see the latest inductees. And, don’t miss the plaques ready for the upcoming ceremony in July. Who do you think will be honored this summer?
Plan to spend some time visiting the excellent Museum Store at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The huge store has souvenirs and gift items specific to the museum, as well as memorabilia and apparel for each major league team. Remember, if you are ready to get some lunch, you can always return to the Museum Store later in the day.
As you exit the museum, turn to the right of the entrance and look for the Baseball Scoreboard. This old-fashioned scoreboard is updated during the baseball season with current standings of the major league teams.
National Baseball Hall of Fame Admission Prices:
$23 Adults (13-64 years of age)
$15 Seniors (65 and older)
$12 Children (7-12 years of age)
Free for children 6 and under
Free for active and career retired military
National Baseball Hall of Fame Hours:
9 am – 5 pm daily, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
National Baseball Hall of Fame Location:
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, New York 13326
Parking at the National Ball of Fame and Museum:
Parking on Main Street in Cooperstown is limited to two hours, and paid parking is in effect Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day. If you do park on Main Street, be sure to pay at the nearby parking box and put the receipt on your dashboard before entering the museum.
The Doubleday Field Parking Lot offers an all-day paid option for $14. It is only about two blocks from the entrance to the museum at Doubleday Court, so this may be your best choice. If you are on Main Street facing the museum, Doubleday Field is to the right.
Another parking option is to park in one of the three free Cooperstown perimeter Trolley Lots and take the Cooperstown Trolley. The Trolley cost $2 for an Individual Day Pass or $5 for a Daily Family Pass for up to two adults and 3 dependent children (not available July 27-30).
- The Blue Trolley Lot is located just off Route 28, south of the Village of Cooperstown if you are traveling north from Oneonta, New York.
- The Red Trolley Lot is located off Route 28 North (Glen Avenue) at Maple Street if you are traveling south on Route 28 from Route 20.
- The Yellow Trolley Lot is located on Route 80 at the upper parking lot of the Fenimore Art Museum if you are traveling south on Route 80 from Route 20.
- Accessible parking is available in the Blue Lot and the Red Lot. Trolleys are ADA compliant and can accommodate mechanized and standard wheelchairs.
- Trolleys run from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day daily from 8:30 am to 9 pm. After Labor Day through Columbus Day, trolleys run weekends only from 9:30 am to 7:15pm.
- In July and August trolleys run 2 routes: Blue Lot to Downtown & Red and Yellow Lots to Downtown. During the rest of the year one trolley serves all stops. All trolleys stop at Doubleday Field & the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
- In July and August, the trolley routes take approximately 15 minutes to complete barring traffic or other delays. During the rest of the year, the combined trolley route run time increases to 25 minutes.
- For a map of the lots and to track the trolleys, visit Cooperstown trolleys at cooperstowntrolley.com.
For the latest information about the National Baseball Hall of Fame, check the official website at:
Lake Front Restaurant
If you began your day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, you are most likely now ready for lunch. During the warmer months of the year, enjoy an excellent meal less than two blocks from the museum overlooking Otsego Lake at the reasonably priced Lake Front Restaurant. The restaurant is located on the lake in front of the Lake Front Hotel, owners of the restaurant.
The Vidalia onion soup covered with Gruyère cheese is excellent, as are the Seafood Au Gratin and Triple-Decker Club Sandwich. For lighter fare, consider a variety of salads and additional seafood items.
The colorful view of the marina from the tables near the lake looks like a painting! The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily from Memorial Day weekend in May through Columbus Day weekend in October.
To reach the restaurant and Otsego Lake, walk to the right from the museum on Main Street (away from the village flagpole). Take the first left on Fair Street and walk toward the lake for two blocks. The restaurant will be on your left when you reach the lake. The easy walk will take about five minutes.
Lakefront Restaurant website: http://lakefrontcooperstown.com/about/
Glimmerglass Queen Boat Cruise
The Lakefront Hotel also operates the Glimmerglass Queen boat cruises that depart from the dock in front of the restaurant. One-hour tours of Otsego Lake are offered daily from mid-June through Labor Day at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm and on Wednesdays through Sundays from Memorial Day weekend in May to Columbus Day weekend in October at 1 pm, 3pm, 5pm (and also at 11 am on weekends). The Ticket Office is located right at the lakefront. Tickets are cash only, $16.50 for adults and $10 for children. Be at the office at least 15 minutes before sailing to make sure that the cruise is sailing, since it is dependent on weather and minimum numbers.
Glimmerglass Queen website: https://www.cooperstownlakefronthotel.com/boat-tours
For a year-round option, check out the famous Cooperstown Diner at 136 ½ Main Street. The diner is open every day from 6 am until 8 pm (until 9 pm in summer). It has been featured in The Boston Globe, New York Times, and Diners of America. Menu options include burgers, comfort food, and breakfast options served throughout the day.
To reach the diner, from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, exit to the left (in the direction of the village flagpole) on Main Street and walk two blocks. The diner will be on the left after about two blocks. The easy walk will take about five minutes.
Cooperstown Diner website: http://www.cooperstowndiner.com/index.php
Sandlot Kid Statue
After lunch and/or after your boat cruise, walk two blocks from the entrance of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, on the same side of Main Street, in the direction of the flagpole. Enter Doubleday Court toward Doubleday Field to see the Sandlot Kid Statue. Sculptor Victor Salvatore created the bronze sculpture. It was unveiled in 1964. It represents any and all who have ever played the game of baseball and is one of the most famous picture spots in Cooperstown.
Then, continue past the Sandlot Kid Statue toward the large parking lot and you will see Doubleday Field, where some of the first baseball games were played. The history of Doubleday Field is intertwined with the history of baseball in America.
In 1905, sporting goods businessman Albert Spalding selected a commission to determine the roots of baseball. The committee determined that Abner Doubleday, a Civil War veteran, had invented the game in Cooperstown in the year 1839 when he wrote down rules adapted from a local version of “town ball”. Later, it was discovered that baseball had evolved from earlier bat and ball games. As the Cooperstown Hall of Fame records, “Doubleday did not invent baseball. Baseball invented Doubleday.”
Nevertheless, when National League President John Tener came to Cooperstown in 1916, he visited a cow pasture where Doubleday and other Cooperstown schoolboys had played ball. He suggested that the land be preserved to honor Doubleday, and on September 6, 1920, Doubleday Field officially opened with a baseball game between Cooperstown and Milford. John Heydler, president of the National League, umpired the first inning.
In the 1930’s, a new grandstand and set of bleachers were built using funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to expand the seating capacity at Doubleday Field. The renovated ballpark and the brand new National Baseball Hall of Fame both opened in 1939 for the baseball centennial celebration. That year, ballplayers from every big league team played in the All-Star Game at Doubleday Field after the first Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 12.
From 1940 until 2008, two Major League Baseball teams played an exhibition game here, known as the Hall of Fame Game. The Hall of Fame Classic replaced the event in 2009.
Doubleday Field has seen many changes since 1939, but the grandstand dating to the opening year of the Baseball Hall of Fame still remains today.
Doubleday Field website: http://www.doubledayfield.com
Main Street Shops
Now, walk back across the Doubleday Field parking lot toward Main Street. Shop your way along the street through the many souvenir, boutique, and specialty shops to end your perfect day in Cooperstown. Take some pictures to commemorate your visit to Main Street, USA, and to the town of America’s pastime of baseball at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
I hope you enjoyed this post and podcast about visiting Cooperstown. I would love to hear from you about your travels, too. Remember, you can comment at the bottom of this blog, email via my contact page at https://oneperfectdayin.org/contact/, or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest @oneperfectdayin and/or subscribe to my podcast below or on Apple Podcasts/iTunes or Google Podcast at “One Perfect Day in Travel”.
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