An Extra-Special Night to Remember
Many people can say they’ve visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but how many can boast to having camped there?
On Saturday evening, the National Baseball Hall of Fame stayed open a little bit late for a group of young baseball players from Ossining, N.Y., and a Cub Scout Pack from Garden City, N.Y. In fact, the Museum never closed. These young baseball enthusiasts and their parents and coaches had a night to remember as they took part in the Hall’s Extra Innings Overnight program.
Arriving after the Museum had closed to the general public, our overnight guests dropped their gear in alcoves of the Hall of Fame Gallery. Difficult choices abounded: Sleep underneath the first five or seek out the most recent inductees, Barry Larkin and Ron Santo? Perhaps they could find a comfortable spot underneath Jackie Robinson’s plaque, which shares an alcove with legendary flame thrower Bob Feller.
With the sleeping arrangements made, the group made their way upstairs to get their visit started with a special showing of The Baseball Experience in the Grandstand Theater. They then had the whole Museum to themselves for the next two hours. It was difficult to tell who was more excited, the kids (many of whom had never been to the Hall of Fame) or the parents (whose last visit to Cooperstown came when they were just kids).
The group made their way through the Museum, completing their Discovery Tour Scavenger Hunts. On the second floor, Museum Teacher Frank Capozza engaged the kids with baseball equipment from the Hall of Fame’s education collection, explaining how new technologies have changed the game through the years. Meanwhile, in the Hall of Fame’s Learning Center the overnighters learned how they put their knowledge of science to use each time they step to the plate, and in the Bullpen Theater kids and adults helped our Education staff recreate the dramatic radio call of Henry Aaron’s 715th Home Run.
After exploring the Museum and taking part in these special programs, everyone met up in the Grandstand Theater to complete their night with a baseball movie and snacks. By 11:30, we had tired our guests out and it was time to sleep amidst the plaques and artifacts of baseball’s immortals.
A light breakfast and one last look around the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery and our visitors were on their way before the Museum opened on Saturday morning, but they didn’t stray too far. Many planned to take advantage of their free admission on Sunday to visit the Museum Store and find out what the Hall looks like under the light of day.
The Hall offers its Extra Innings Overnight program several times a year. Visit http://baseballhall.org/plan-your-visit/special-experiences/extra-innings to find our upcoming dates, or call (607) 547-0347 for more information.
Steve Light is the manager of museum programming at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum