Bon Iver has a Good Time in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

Only a few days from beginning a four-night stretch of sold-out shows at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall, members of the acclaimed group Bon Iver took time out from their busy schedule to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday.

Senior Curator, Tom Shieber, gives members of the group Bon Iver (left to right: Reggie Pace, Carl Faber, Matt McCaughan, and Josh Sundquist) the backstory on some artifacts in the library. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

In town for a concert on Monday, members of Bon Iver (French pronunciation bo-nee-VAIR, meaning “good winter”),who earlier this year won the Grammy for Best New Artist and for Best Alternative Album for the self-titled Bon Iver, were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the institution. Whether it was viewing a Babe Ruth scrapbook, a ball from the 1927 World Series or a bat Ted Williams once cracked in frustration, the musicians seemed genuinely enthralled.

“It was amazing to just see the operations and how it works,” said drummer Matt McCaughan. “And to be up close with direct contact to these old artifacts and to see them firsthand was just incredible.

“It’s certainly one of those things that – even though I don’t necessarily follow baseball – it was one of those opportunities I didn’t see how you could not come. I don’t know when I’d be in Cooperstown next.”

According to trombonist Reggie Pace, he didn’t know what to expect in his visit to the Hall of Fame, “but it was really cool. I love seeing the history of things and this was really beautiful. After seeing the artifacts it’s like the history of America in a lot of ways.”

Pace was a big league baseball fan while growing up, lost interest in his high school years, but has recently been getting back into the game.

“I was a really big White Sox fan as a kid,” he said. “I was a card collector, and I remember opening a pack and being like like, ‘Robin Ventura. Oh my God!’”

Though he doesn’t have a big league team he follows regularly, McCaughan does attend games of the minor league Durham Bulls in the North Carolina city he now calls home.

“I don’t consider myself a historian but history is certainly an interest of mine,” he said. “And this was just one of those things where it didn’t even have to be baseball, as it is in this case, but you could have the Hall of Fame of anything and I’d want to come see it. In this case it just happened to be a very historic Hall of Fame.”

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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