We went to Cooperstown for one reason – the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But quickly we found that this area holds more than the one attraction celebrating our national pastime. There was a fruit farm, winery, a state park, and no shortage of gorgeous scenery in the Fall.
We happened to be in the area when the leaves of Fall were in their glory. Just a short drive from the campground was Glimmerglass State Park which served as a beautiful hiking spot with eye pleasing views. A spectrum of colors warmed the hillsides that fell into the nine-mile Otsego lake. The park has a campground, hiking trails, picnic area, boat launch and is home to historic structures including Hyde Hall (built between 1817-1834) and the oldest existing covered bridge in the U.S.
A drive into Cooperstown quickly lets you know you have entered baseball’s past and present. The picturesque downtown has restored buildings that pay homage to baseball and it’s hero's with creative names and baseball-themed storefronts. Induction Days has the latest inductees show up for their crowning moment and brings energy to the town, but don’t worry, baseball is celebrated year round.
Cooperstown’s crowning jewel - The National Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1936 to honor those that represents baseball’s elite – only about one percent of those who have ever played major league baseball. To get your name and face on a brass plate in Cooperstown is no easy task. To date, the elite group consists of a total of only 310 players, Negro Leaguers, executives, managers, and umpires. Some of the rules for election include having played at least 10 major league seasons, been retired for five years (and not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list like famed players Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose) and be voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The Hall of Fame was built in 1939 by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel who hoped to bring people to the dying town and boost the economy. Once dependent on growing and selling hops, Cooperstown fell on hard times during prohibition. Today the museum draws nearly 300,000 fans from all over to world who come to Cooperstown and enjoy not only the museum but Doubleday Field, collectors shops, and gift shops. The acceptable attire is a baseball jersey or cap, and in case you forgot to bring yours, there are plenty for sale including those with names of inductees from years past.
The museum visit starts with a short film in a creatively designed theater to resemble a baseball stadium. Next you move through a hundred years of fascinating history. Here you will marvel at the stats leaders, the evolution of baseball gear, learn about the Negro and women's professional leagues, glare at World Series Rings, and dive deep into the past stadiums that built the sport. For baseball enthusiasts, Cooperstown is the place to come.
After the Hall of Fame, we were off to see an apple farm (Fly Creek Cider Mill) and indulge in the Fall glory of upper state New York. There was an apple peeling demonstration using hand peelers from the early 1900’s, cider tastings, farm animals, and a store for all things Fall. We had no idea how popular this place was until we pulled up to a full parking lot.
A quick stop away was the Pail Shop Winery which had us saying hello to New York grapes. The tasting room was pleasant and talking to the women serving us was wonderful. She had moved down from Syracuse and seemed happy and obliging to share her knowledge and answer our questions.
Cooperstown was a great quick stop for us at a perfect time of year. For a baseball fan, this is the place for you to come and indulge.
Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.