Retiring from full-time duty

Spencer_90.jpgBy Ted Spencer

So, this is it — the last week of my time as a full-time employee of the Baseball Hall of Fame. My last day is this Thursday, April 16. (There will be an explanation on the significance of the 16th on the day itself.)

It certainly isn’t the same place it was on the day I started, April 19, 1982. At that time, the number of full-time employees here was about 18. Now, we number close to 100. There were approximately 30,000 square feet of exhibit space. Now, it is around 50,000.

4-13-09-Spencer_Artifact.jpgMore importantly, we have grown philosophically. I remember the first month I was here, I asked Howard Talbot, the museum director, “Are we a museum or a tourist destination?” His response: “That is a question we’re trying to answer.”

I believe that, in the years that followed, it was answered. Even though the vast majority of our visitors are here on vacation, we have matured into a major museum and most importantly, a serious research center. With the staff we have in place throughout the organization, I think the future years here will be very exciting.

For me, personally, it has been quite a ride. What an experience! For someone who was just an everyday fan in the fall of 1981, to find himself on first-name terms with many of his childhood idols — it’s mind boggling. In addition: taking an exhibit to Japan, spending five days in Cuba, meeting three U.S. presidents, working in the White House. That’s all topped off by being able to raise your family in Cooperstown. How much better can it get?

Around 9:30 on Friday morning, the entire family heads for a week’s vacation in South Carolina. When I return, I will be coming into the office for a few mornings each week. I will be prowling through the institution’s archives, which — I hope — date back to our beginning. This is an area I’ve wanted to research for some time. I hope to find information on the history of the exhibits as well as any information on the donation of artifacts. A cursory look through has already unearthed some 1950 correspondence between the Hall and Ty Cobb, which led to his donation of his “Honey Boy” Evans trophies from the early 20th century.

I anticipate reporting on my findings in future blogs.

Right now, I have an office to clean out.

Ted Spencer is vice president and chief curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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