Results tagged ‘ Memories and Dreams ’

Hawaii comes to Cooperstown

By Jon Arakaki

It all started with the December 2006 issue of Memories and Dreams, the official magazine of the Baseball Hall of Fame .

Curator Lenny DiFranza’s article on the first artifacts donated to the Museum featured a 1938 photo of the Honolulu Conservatory of Music building on Main Street in Cooperstown, which was demolished to make way for the Hall of Fame and Museum. Being that I was born and raised in Hawaii, I wondered how in the world a conservatory from back home ended up in Cooperstown, let alone on the site of the Hall.  

Recently, with the assistance of local historians in Cooperstown, and Museum and library staffs in Flint, Michigan and Cleveland, I was able to piece together a part of the story – although a few mysteries remain. 

The Oahu Publishing Company/Honolulu Conservatory of Music was established in Flint, Michigan in the mid-1920s by half brothers Harry G. Stanley and George A. Bronson. Why Flint? Because of the auto industry, Flint attracted workers from across the U.S., including Hawaii (a territory at the time). By all indications, the Hawaiians brought their music with them, and this provided the impetus for the brothers to capitalize on the nationwide craze for this music by publishing sheet music and providing guitar instruction. Eventually, they opened 1,200 studios across the U.S., Canada, and other foreign countries. 

Interestingly, one of these studios found its way to Cooperstown. In the Feb. 11, 1938 issue of The Otsego Farmer, an ad announced that Philip J. Colwell opened a Honolulu Conservatory of Music location on 29 Pioneer Street. It also invited residents to learn the “slides, slurs, variations and trick playing that puts the Hawaiian guitar in first place today.” 

Business must have been brisk – on April 20, 1938, an article in The Freeman’s Journal stated that Colwell moved to a larger location at 33 Main Street, the site of the current Museum. This takes us back to the photo in Lenny’s article. By the time of the Museum’s dedication on June 12, 1939, the Conservatory building was long gone. Colwell’s business was listed in the 1938 Cooperstown Village Directory, but was nowhere to be found when the next directory was published in 1940. 

So what happened? There are no indications that Colwell moved to a new location, or opened other studios in the area. Why did he fold up a business that seemed to be thriving and riding the wave of Hawaiian music’s popularity? These are questions I will continue to pursue. 

Ultimately, while there wasn’t the direct connection between Cooperstown and my home state that I had hoped for, I was glad to learn about the spread of the islands’ music across the country. And I know that once Hawaiian natives Sid Fernandez, Benny Agbayani and Shane Victorino are inducted into the Hall – or so I hope – the Hawaiian connection will truly be complete!

Jon Arakaki is a Library volunteer at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and a professor at SUNY Oneonta.

Giving Thanks for Baseball and Family

By Trevor Hayes

I have post-it notes on my bathroom mirror, my front door and my computer monitor. They say things like “Understand where you are,” “Don’t forget to enjoy it,” and “Be thankful.”

When you work at the Hall of Fame – a place people mark on calendars, plan vacations to and pencil in on bucket lists – I’ve found that I sometimes overlook what makes Cooperstown so special. I think to all of us here, it sometimes becomes just going to the office. My desk is in the basement, away from the visitors and artifacts – away from the magic. So I feel like I can’t always be blamed for forgetting.

If I let myself, I could go weeks without setting foot in the actual Museum. But I don’t. In fact over the last few weeks, I’ve given tours of the Hall to friends. About a month ago it was a Royals security guard and his son. The next week, my friend Keith and his die-hard Tiger fan grandparents. Then two weeks ago it was a high school buddy visiting from New York City. It all served as a reminder of how lucky I am – better than my post-its.

The common thread was family. While my fellow Oak Park High alum was alone, he kept he wants to come back with his father. I’m thankful for my father and the time we’ve spent together here. He had surgery last Friday to remove a kidney that most likely had a cancerous cyst.

Hopefully the surgery will be the extent of his battle. But I know from my prior experiences, that one of the best medicines are memories to which you can hold close. My dad helped me move here from Kansas City in 2008. We watched playoff baseball during our first night in town and saw Robin Roberts during a Voices of the Game event, then toured the Hall the next day. My family came for Father’s Day Weekend in 2010. I played catch with my dad at Doubleday and he got to see me working on the field the same field that was hosting legends like Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew and Ozzie Smith.

Sports – and specifically baseball – have always been a bond between us. He introduced me to athletics and Boy Scouts. I think he did a pretty good job. I’m an Eagle Scout and worked on the same summer camp staff he did. Now I work at the Hall of Fame after two years with the Royals.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a few of the other things I’m thankful for are: The fact that I’m in Los Angeles right now with my fiancée and we could go to the beach while it might be snowing in Cooperstown; the Royals – if I get to attend my first All-Star Game in KC next summer that will make my 2012 list; and as a uniform geek the Mets and Blue Jays for ditching black. I’m thankful for a seven-game World Series – despite the Cardinals winning it. I give thanks for the game’s greats, especially my favorite Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and my favorite Gehrig stat which I try to shoe-horn into every Memories and Dreams, social media post or even casual conversation about him. I’m thankful for stars like Justin Verlander, who can hit triple digits in the seventh and eighth; for movies like Bull Durham, Major League and one of my new favorites Moneyball (so sue me, I’m a stat geek, I loved the book, and I hope Brad Pitt wins the Oscar).

But mostly this year, I’m thankful for my family and for my dad.

Oh, I couldn’t leave it like that. That Lou Gehrig stat: Despite playing in 2,130 consecutive games without taking a day off, when they x-rayed his hands in the late 1930s, they found 17 healed fractures. I’m blown away by that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball  Hall of Fame and Museum.

Lucky 10,000

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Colby Lessmann became a fan of the Hall of Fame on Facebook last week because he wanted to stay in touch. Little did he know that by clicking the “Become a fan” button on, he’d be getting more than updates on his News Feed.

04-15-10-Hayes_Kauffman.jpgLessmann just happened to be Facebook fan number 10,000 – a mark the Hall reached in just over a year after launching on Opening Day 2009. To honor him, the Hall of Fame has given away an individual membership. As a Member, Lessmann receives a subscription to the Hall’s bi-monthly Memories and Dreams magazine, a Hall of Fame Yearbook, complimentary admission, a Tom Seaver membership card and lapel pin and a 10 percent discount and free shipping on all purchases through the Hall of Fame store at

A baseball-lifer, Lessmann has been a fan since his early childhood, continuing to play the game through college and now as an amateur at age 37. He grew up four hours north of Kansas City and watched the glory years of the Royals, led by Hall of Famer George Brett. Many of Brett’s heroic feats serve as Lessmann’s greatest baseball moments.

“Back in the 80’s my family and I went to a Royals game,” Lessmann said of his favorite memory. “It turned out Brett had been injured, but he pinch hit in the ninth inning. When he came out on deck the crowd went crazy. He came up and jacked a home run over the right field wall and the stadium went wild.”

04-15-10-Hayes_Brett.jpgAn ardent Royals fan, he’s been to at least one game in K.C. each year since 1979, but growing up in Iowa also provided the chance to easily travel to games in Minnesota and Chicago. As an adult he’s taken that passion to a new level and vowed to visit every major league stadium.

“Of course, it is getting more difficult because they keep building new stadiums,” Lessmann said. Among his conquests have been the brand new Target Field, Safeco Field, Chase Field, AT&T Park, Comerica Park, Great American Ballpark and 16 others past and present.

He’s also writing on the history of baseball in his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa. And After doing some research for the book through the Library, Lessmann sought out the Hall’s Facebook page.

“The Research Center at the Hall of Fame helped me out., (so I) wanted to be a fan to show my appreciation for a great museum and research facility” he said. “I have visited the Hall of Fame a few years ago and plan to go back in the future. I went probably 10 years ago when I was in northern New York State.  My favorite memory was viewing all of the old memorabilia of Ruth, Gehrig and other greats. It is a great experience that any baseball fan should pursue.”

Now as both a Facebook fan and a Hall of Fame member, he can continue re-living the great moments in baseball history with his connection to the game. Make sure you don’t miss out on the Facebook action at

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A trip worth the wait

Aldrich_90.jpgBy Matt Aldrich

Every visitor who enters the Baseball Hall of Fame has a special story of how they arrived in Cooperstown. Some visits, however, are about more than just baseball.

Last month, Hall of Fame member Doug Plunkett and his daughter Amy and son Erik arrived in Cooperstown a year after they had originally planned. But for Doug Plunkett, just the chance to make the trip was itself a miracle.

10-6-09-Aldrich_Plunkett.jpgIn June 2007, Doug was diagnosed with cancer in multiple organs. He went through a serious surgery after which he spent months recovering and regaining strength at home. His family thought they were in the clear and believed the cancers were caught early enough before they had a chance to spread to yet another location.

Despite Doug’s hardships, he continued to follow baseball – and at one point made mention to Amy that he wanted to go visit Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Amy thought this would be a perfect way for him to celebrate his recovery. On Christmas 2008, Amy gave Doug a Hall of Fame membership so he could visit the Museum and enjoy Memories and Dreams – the official publication of the Hall of Fame – all year long.

But soon after Christmas, Doug learned that the cancer had indeed metastasized. His battle against the cancer continued with another surgery in March 2008 and then chemotherapy from April to October 2008.

But with time, Doug had been able to recover again, and the results from his diagnostic scans have all been clear. Finally – with Doug feeling better – the family traveled from Las Vegas and arrived in Cooperstown in September 2009. Doug’s favorite part of his visit was the large photograph of Carl Yastrzemski and he enjoyed seeing memorabilia from the team he loved growing up, the Boston Red Sox.

But most of all, Doug cherished the time with his family in Cooperstown. It was a trip that included a detour, but one that was worth the wait. To learn more about Hall of Fame Membership, visit

Matt Aldrich is the manager of membership at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.


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