A great month
By Jeff Idelson
What a month it has been for the Hall of Fame — from opening two new major exhibits to having five Hall of Famers in town. It’s been a whirlwind, but a good whirlwind.
The Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream exhibit opening was especially gratifying because Henry and his wife Billye were in Cooperstown, and truly impressed with the presentation. You could almost see their sense of pride seeing in brick and mortar all that they have accomplished in life. Our Voices of the Game program with members was great, especially when Henry grabbed a Jackie Robinson model bat and started showing everyone how Jackie grabbed the bat tightly, while Henry’s hands were loose. Insider info. So cool.
Two weeks later, we opened °Viva Baseball! Orlando Cepeda traveled from San Francisco and Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic for the dedication. This exhibit may be the most intricate one we have established, with its widespread use of multimedia, and with every single element — labels, captions and video, all bilingual. As I delivered my remarks while standing on a map of South America, and specifically on Nicaragua, it caused me to pause and remember that Orioles and Expos star, Dennis Martinez, the all-time winningest pitcher in the country’s history, signed a contract in the spring of 1973, just months after Hall of Fame hero and humanitarian Roberto Clemente died trying to deliver earthquake relief supplies there on New Year’s Eve.
Both exhibits are ones with which our entire staff is so proud.
Sprinkled among the openings were orientation visits from Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson. Both were seeing the Museum for the first time. It’s always interesting to see how the guys react to being in Cooperstown and the result is always the same: humbled. They both now are beginning to realize the enormity of being a Hall of Famer. From talking to a lot of Hall of Famers over the years, coming to Cooperstown and then giving their speech on stage truly leads them to realize that their careers are ongoing. I know Rickey still thinks about playing… he asked me if he could play in the WBC in January.
Now we roll into June and the Hall of Fame Classic is quickly approaching and five MORE Hall of Famers will be in Coop. July will bring 50+ more.
While the village of Cooperstown can be classified as sleepy, the Museum certainly can not. There’s always something fun happening in the Hall.
Jeff Idelson is president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.