Books and baseball

By Samantha Carr

Literary works Jane Eyre, The Outsiders and Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief are not the usual topics discussed at the Baseball Hall of Fame. But on Tuesday, these titles served as answers in a Battle of the Books competition at the Museum.

Students in grades 6-12 from Cooperstown Central School, Dolgeville Central School and Fort Plain Central School – all located near the Hall of Fame – gathered in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater to buzz in and try to take home a trophy for their school. More than 60 kids participated in the field trip and took part in the program, which encourages reading and tests their knowledge.

“Mary Van Patten, the librarian at Fort Plain, and I both heard about this type of competition at a conference for librarians and decided to try it,” said Michelle Hitchcock, librarian at Cooperstown Middle and High School. “We started it with middle schools, but we had a strong group that entered ninth grade and didn’t want it to end. So we brought it to the high school.”

About three years ago, Cindy Staley, librarian at Dolgeville, brought the program to her school and joined them in the battle. High school participants read 16 books to prepare for the competition and middle school kids read 20.

The students began the day playing an ice-breaker game about the books they read to get to know each other and share their love for reading. The field trip is fun and friendly and is more about education than it is about winning.

“Students at Cooperstown have done local battles before today and I am sure the other schools have too,” said Hitchcock. “There is even a national competition.”

Each school competed in groups of four at each level. Questions can be about characters or the plot of the story, or simply a quote from the book. Students must not only answer the question, but also correctly name the title and author of the work to receive points.

After a close competition, students from Cooperstown took home both the middle school and high school prizes. The group then ate lunch and got ready for a guided tour of the Museum before heading back to their respective schools.

The Education Department at the Baseball Hall of Fame hosts field trips, participates in videoconferences and offers curriculum for teachers to use at their school for students in grades K-12. For more information, visit

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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