Grammi and I are sitting at a small round table under a large covered patio. A glass of dark porter sitting in front of me. We just ordered dinner from a menu offering vegan dining. A great sounding band is playing a mixture of contemporary rock and a bit of country. The sun is setting over the tree tops as a large bon-fire dances and sways to the music. Local folks brought lawn chairs and blankets to sit on the hillside where they can enjoy the band. With clear skies and a gentle cool breeze, it is a perfect night to be outside.
Brewery Ommegang is a farmhouse style brewery nestled in the hills near Cooperstown, New York. Growing their own hops and using local farm ingredients where possible, this Belgian-style brewery entered the emerging United States craft beer market in 1997 with a traditional bottled dark ale. They have grown, now producing a variety of bottle and keg beers, including their popular Three Philosophers, and are distributing to forty-four states.
The visitor center welcomes guest with a tasting room, an elegant dining room with white linen tablecloths, a store, an outdoor patio and bar offering tapped beer. Brewery tours are also available. A summer concert series brings in crowds of people to enjoy the music outdoors and of course the beer. We are happy to be here to enjoy this beautiful evening. As grammi likes to say, “This is a good find”.
We are in Cooperstown for the baseball though. I loved baseball growing up and was a fan of The Big Red Machine with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez. I could still walk around the diamond and tell you who played each position. The only time I remember skipping school was to watch the Reds play in the 1970 World Series. Yep, they played day games in those days.
Whenever I had a nickel I would buy a pack of baseball trading cards. Sometimes I’d chew the gum but mostly I tossed it away. I just wanted to see who’s card I got. I had shoe boxes filled with cards from the late 1950‘s through the 1960’s . I had them all organized by teams. I would study the stats printed on the back of the cards. I felt like I knew the players. Sadly my mother tossed all my cards in the trash soon after I moved away. I wonder what they would be worth today.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was a different experience for us than when we were at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We liked that it was located near the center of a small village. The shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance. Once you pay the daily admission and get your hand stamped, you can come and go as you please. We started out at the Hall of Fame for about an hour before leaving to walk the streets and look at all the baseball themed shopping. We found a little New York pizzeria for lunch.
We then returned to the Hall of Fame for a couple more hours. We left again to see the Doubleday baseball stadium where according to legend is built on the site where baseball was first played. We returned one last time to the Hall of Fame for a final look. I liked the breaks and am certain it was more pleasant for grammi too. I’m betting she wasn’t as thrilled as me to be there.
I enjoyed walking among the exhibits in the Hall of Fame and reading the history, much of which I am familiar with. There were displays of the old-timers like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cy Young and so many more. Also there were the most recent players Roy Halladay, Mariano Rivera, and Edgar Martinez. There is an area dedicated to Hank Aaron showing, among other things, the home run baseballs he hit in his march to breaking Babe Ruth’s record.
Interesting to me was an area dedicated to baseball’s history with the use of performance enhancing drugs. Among the players shown were Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Their records were noted but with an implied asterisk.
There are displays from the Negro League Baseball and the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. A popular movie, “A League of Their Own” is based on the AAGPBL and is a favorite of my daughters. Many other baseball themed movies like “Field of Dreams” and “Angels in the Outfield” were profiled in a special Hollywood room.
There is a gallery dedicated to baseball art. A painting by the famed artist Leroy Neiman hangs there. Also a painting by a distant cousin of grammi’s father is hanging in the gallery.
My Big Red Machine was well represented. Pete Rose’s jersey is on display. As you may know Pete Rose, the best baseball player I have ever seen in my lifetime, is not a member of the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame! The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will never truly represent the best players in baseball until he is included.
On the walls in the Hall hung the plaques of inductees. I methodically walked around reading the names on each one. Most of the names I have heard of. Many of the names I have watch play on TV. I stopped to read the short bio under some of the names. It was fascinating.
I am happy we routed our travels through Cooperstown. The village was very friendly and accommodating. If you are a baseball fan, you will love it. If you have a favorite team or player then I would encourage you to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
We stayed in Cooperstown for only two nights. Camp sites were limited and pricey. We were at Beaver Valley Campground with water and 30 amp electric. It was the closest available site we could find to the Hall of Fame. We paid $45.00 per night. The most expensive sight we’ve stayed at so far. Besides we did what we came for and now it’s time for a new adventure.