Cooperstown comes to Arizona

By Steve Light

The baseball world has descended on Phoenix, Ariz., for the Mid-Summer Classic – including the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Since Friday, the masses have flocked to Major League Baseball’s annual FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center, just blocks away from Chase Field, where they can experience the world’s largest interactive baseball fan event. Fans have taken advantage of batting cages, clinics, free autograph sessions, retail locations and of course, an exhibit put together by our curators at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

For the Hall of Fame staff in Phoenix this week, we have the unique opportunity to interact with fans here in Arizona, hear some of their favorite baseball moments and bring a bit of Cooperstown across the country to them. In addition to our exhibit, the Hall of Fame has offered live interactive programs throughout the day.

Each day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I’ve had the opportunity to present hands-on programs to enthusiastic FanFest attendees. At 11, our Tools of the Trade program breaks down the evolution of baseballs, bats, and gloves – using replica artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s Education Collection. As part of the program, audience volunteers are able to come on stage and work together to try to put a number of different gloves and bats in chronological order. So far, our fans have had great success in their efforts.

At 2, we shift gears a bit and delve into the science behind the National Pastime, as we conduct experiments with our audience to find the sweet spot of the bat, learn about the impact of weather and altitude on the ball and unlock the secrets of the curveball and knuckleball. In addition to these programs, fans have a chance to test their baseball knowledge during our popular Hall of Fame Trivia contest.

All in all, our FanFest experience has allowed the Hall of Fame staff a great chance to interact with fans who share our love for the National Pastime. If you are in the Phoenix area, stop on by – Fan Fest continues right up through Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Steve Light is the manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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