Memorial Day 2014 will bring lots of red, white, and blue decorations and a festive atmosphere in the tiny community of Cooperstown, New York, but not just because of the holiday. Cooperstown is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary and Memorial Day weekend is filled with commemorative events in honor of the organization.
The roots of America’s pastime go back to the 1800s, but as the 20th century rolled around, baseball became more popular. The 1920s marked an explosion of baseball fanaticism, as sports stories were added to newspapers, baseball games started being broadcast over the radio, and stadiums were being built across the country (www.historymatters.gmu.edu, The National Pastime in the 1920s: The Rise of the Baseball Fan). By the 1930s, baseball was a booming business.
In the mid-1930s Stephen C. Clark, of Cooperstown, approached Ford C. Frick, the president of the National League, about building a museum to celebrate the sport. The Baseball Hall of Fame was born and in 1936, the first class, including Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb, was inducted. Just three years later, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors in Cooperstown (www.baseballhall.org, History).
In honor of this anniversary, the museum released “The Hall: A Celebration of Baseball’s Greats,” the official 75th anniversary book. For the first time, the organization has released a full, comprehensive directory of every member of the Hall of Fame. It includes photographs, images of plaques given to inductees, stories written by the players themselves and biographies for each player (www.baseballhall.org, “The Hall: A Celebration of Baseballs’ Greats” Debuts Today at Booksellers Nationwide, May 6, 2014).
Memorial Day weekend festivities include an All-Star Classic on Saturday that will feature 6 Hall of Fame inductees and 30 recently retired major league players. The Woodmen of the World, a Nebraska-based life insurance society, will present the first 5,000 fans that enter Doubleday field with an American flag. Additional events will include a Memorial Day Parade, the third annual BASE Race, and the Home Run Derby, all of which will be attended by major league legends such as Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith, and Eddie Murray (www.baseballhall.org, Cooperstown to be Colored Red, White and Blue for May 24 Hall of Fame Class with American Flags, May 21, 2014).
The Baseball Hall of Fame has been recognizing the best of the best in baseball for 75 years. Those individuals have been heroes to countless little boys and girls and have provided fun for the entire family. Memorial Day celebrations are meant to honor the sacrifices of the soldiers who have fought to protect our freedoms, but on this Hall of Fame anniversary, we are also reminded of what makes this country great. America’s pastime represents American culture at its finest.