Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Baseball Hall in 2019: Yes, There are Cards


My family, as I've written about on this blog a few times before, will often take a week in August and go up to Lake George, NY with the extended family, and just sit on a porch and drink for a bit.

Usually when we're up there, someone will get the bright idea to suggest driving an hour or so up to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. Usually my dad and I drive. It's always a rotating number of relatives, young and old, going for different reasons, but I always look to see what's new, what's different.

Seeing Mariano Rivera in a plaque was definitely new and different. Just like it's gonna be when Jeter gets his this year, if there even is a ceremony. Mariano Rivera was one of the defining Yankees of my upbringing, and it was a joy to watch him pitch. And it was even more of a joy to see him in Cooperstown, next to so many other legends of the game.

Below, are some findings, some things I thought were interesting:

 The emphasis on wild memorabilia and branding is one I've always loved there. Where else can you  find Sammy Sosa cereal, Albert Pujols Uno and Jose Reyes' wine?

 As you'll see below, there's a ton more emphasis on baseball cards at the Hall than there ever was, even just peppered throughout other exhibits. I loved these two being here, especially the Washington Colbert.
And, in an exhibit about the 70s A's, you kind of have to talk about the cards, because the cards were just as 70s-y as that team.

 More 70s fun. THAT OSCAR GAMBLE CARD, MAN. Proudly in there.
 Not sure what's the cooler part of this late-70s standee- a bottle of Ron Guidry's Louisiana Lightning hot sauce, or a first edition hardcover of one of my favorite-ever baseball books.

VHS CASES, MAN. Heck, Little Big League is in there, so you know they went in depth with these.

 I'd heard of some of these candy bars that'd been on display there, but not these three. The Pronk bar is an especially cool one. Travis Hafner was great and all, but you never expect to see him on a candy bar wrapper. The other two, yeah, I can definitely see.

One of the cooler parts of the Hall now is seeing contemporary baseball memorabilia show up, parts of players and teams you grew up with now part of history. Like Ichiro's hit counter. Man, Ichiro's gonna have his own wing when he gets in around 2025.

 In addition to the obvious kinds of collectibles, I also love them doing other kinds of things people can collect, like some cool bobbleheads. That Yadier Molina's a lawn gnome I think? I don't know.
PIIIIIINS
One of the big things I collect  in addition to cards is ballpark pins, or baseball pins in general, and seeing a whole board of countless MLB pins and mementos of teams and places and things- MAN that is cool.

 Yes, the 2010s Giants have their own standee here as well, which  makes me happy, as that's one of the first teams I can say I saw right when they got big. A Brian Wilson beard is nice, but where's a Kung Fu Panda hat?
 Me, my dad, and my cousin Ian laughed at this one's inclusion. Sad thing is that's the closest Jenrry Mejia's ever getting to being in the Hall.

And yes, folks. Bartolo Colon does have some stuff in the Hall of Fame. I was worried, too.

 More proof that the Hall is catching up to modern trends- Players Weekend uniforms. This one is Brad Boxberger's and it's awesome, though I reckon Mark Melancon's from last year may be the next standard.

TICKET STUBS. AND LOTS OF EM.

 Over at the Today's Game lockers, my boys were pretty well represented.

A Nats nesting doll. I took this before they got really hot, so this now looks really good post-WS win.

This is a cool piece of fan giveaway material- I also kinda love that they got AC/DC to do Hell's Bells for Trevor on occasion. Also, fun fact- the Hall's gift shop had a discounted Trevor Hoffman shirt in my size. So I now have that in my repertoire.

 Their exhibit on feats and records hasn't especially changed dramatically, but I do love that a Wade Boggs Rays jersey is sitting there. More people need Wade Boggs Rays stuff in their collections.

 This felt nice. Reeeeeally nice.

 Good to see K-Rod in here as well. Feels weird that him setting the saves record was only 12 years ago.
Right, as a 6'7 blogger, I should probably show this as well. Jon Rauch is the tallest guy to play the game, and he was nasty as heck when he played for Washington and Minnesota. And, by comparison, they put an Eddie Gaedel cut-out there.

 As usual, they have a glass case dedicated to the previous year's World Series winner. Whenever I come here, either the Sox have just won or the Cardinals have just won. I did enjoy the year when the Phils had won and Brad Lidge was here, but...fine, Steve Pearce. Fine.
....fine fine fine fine fine

Whatever, that WAS a good team in 2018 anyway.

 Usually they use a room downstairs near the plaques where they present the new inductees, but because there were so damn many in 2019, they had a separate room for them. Here's Harold Baines' stuff. I still don't entirely think he deserved induction, but who am I to disagree with the BBWAA?

 Seeing Edgar's stuff was very nice. My uncle, the long-suffering Mariners fan, loved Edgar, and was so excited that he finally got in. As was I.
 Of course...Mo's stuff was the biggest crowd pleaser. No real pomp, just some accolades, some rings, that legendary #42. What else do you need?
 The other guy I was really interested in seeing on display was Roy Halladay, a Philly hero of mine. Glad to see both his Cy Youngs, and a 2003-era Jays uniform. Made me very proud.

 Lee Smith was one of two HOF inductions I'd been holding out for for years, and seeing his stuff was nice too. That college jacket is a nice touch..
 As is this bit, detailing all 8 teams he played for. Would have preferred a different choice for the Angels than that awful 96 Donruss design, but...whatever. At least 94 Fleer made it.

And of course, Mike Mussina. Weird that we have an O's uniform but no Yankee uniform, but arguably his tougher numbers came in  Baltimore, so I get it.

I promised cards earlier, and...
 Yes. AN ENTIRE EXHIBIT ON BASEBALL CARDS. No longer just glass cases against a wall in a back corner. AN ENTIRE EHIBIT.
 This is a blurry photo, but they had these organized by year, and by types of sets. So 1981 Topps was well-represented. Mario Mendoza's card was in there for...dubious reasons.

 Great choices for 2010 and 2011- NATIONAL CHICLE IS IN THE HALL. One of the few sets I've tried to collect, makes it in. I love it.
Also, 2011 Gypsy Queen minis and 2011 Heritage.
This was the newest page, with some 2018 and 2019 Topps. It's a bit less interesting now that Topps has flooded the market, but this is still fine.

 This exhibit went into detail about things that may not be so commonplace to casual baseball fans, like competition in the 80s from Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck
 Heck, there's even  a bit devoted to the Junk Wax era. How cool is that?

 And some notes on what makes 'hits' in modern collecting, like game used cards and refractors and such. Plus, a genuine 2019 Topps wrapper.

It gets more granular than that, going into detail on different types of card shots. They REALLY did well here.

 Heck, they even  go into detail on font, design, border, COLOR PALETTE. I kinda love it.

 AND CARD DOCTORING. Reminds me, I need to write a post on my dad's on card doctoring.

 ACTUAL WRAPPERS. CELLO. WAX.

 An actual vending machine, promising a better business model than the cockamamie 10-cards-for-3-bucks model we have now.

Hell, they even have some fun  error cards here, like the Aurelio Rodriguez, the Smoltz/Glavine, and the Aaron negative.

One last shot of my dad with  some of the pull-out cabinets of cards. This is a very cool exhibit, and I love that somebody must have really done research and talked to collectors while putting this together. A shame people can't visit it now given the circumstances, but...this was fun to go to last year.

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