Cooperstown West
As seen in Sandbox Sports

I fancy myself a Baseball Purist. I want to do away with designated hitters, domed stadiums, $80 million payrolls, free agency, fake grass, double-knit polyester uniforms, and Barry Bonds. But despite my yearnings to see the game return to its form of anytime prior to 1969, there is one major change that (if I found that magic lamp) I would instantly wish into being. I would see to it that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened a West Coast Shrine.

Cooperstown, New York, is a sleepy little place that still presents the simple charm of a slower life in a world much smaller than today's. It's America in the 1950's. Drive (slowly) up the town's main street and you can't help but expect to see Beaver Cleaver and his chubby pal, Larry, playing catch just up ahead on the left-"The Beav" didn't know what soccer was and he never owned a pair of $500 NIKE shoes. It is also home to Baseball heaven. Yes, Cooperstown is all very nice except for one thing: it's too darned difficult to get to.

For the millions of baseball fans that don't live in the Eastern Time zone, Cooperstown might as well be located in the middle of the Sea of Tranquility. (For the celestially impaired, the Sea of Tranquility is on the moon, has no water so it's not really a sea, it is not former slugger Wally Moon's hometown, and, even McGwire would require a tail wind to have one of his home runs land there.)

The Hall of Fame is an absolute jewel-a national treasure. Like Madonna, it should be enjoyed by millions. By it's own admission; most of the Hall's unbelievable collection of artifacts remains boxed up. The facility just isn't big enough to house the collection. And more stuff arrives every day. Babe Ruth's Yankee Stadium locker? Got it. Hank Aaron home run balls? Got 'em by the bucketful. Ty Cobb uniforms? Over there in the case. Dugout bench from Shibe Park? Right when you walk in, on the left, go ahead and have a seat. Nolan Ryan's amazing right arm? We expect that some time in the future. Mickey Mantle bats, gloves, and jerseys? Plenty to look at. Walter Johnson's glove from his final game? That's probably somewhere in the basement. IN THE BASEMENT!?! Sorry, we only have so much room.

To summarize the problem, the Hall is inconveniently situated too far in the northeast for millions of American's to get to and the Hall's collection is so vast that it could easily stock two (or even three) museums simultaneously. The solution is so simple and obvious the Commissioner's Office could figure it out. Build a second museum and rotate the artifacts. This would afford millions of West Coast baseball fans the opportunity to experience the thrill of walking into the Hall's awe-inspiring exhibits. Hey, Baseball wants to expand its fan base. Next to sneaking onto the field and playing an inning at shortstop during an actual Major League game (I wish), the Hall is as good a baseball experience as a fan can have. It's baseball Zen.

I realize the problem I'm facing here; the people in Cooperstown and the current Hall administration have no reason to comply. Why should they share? Right now there's only one Hall and they have it. But the fact of the matter is most people will never get to see it. It's just too far out of the way.

I've been there--twice. It's worth the trip. I'll go again. But for so many, it's just not a possibility. If the Hall wont open an official West Coast Shrine, then Baseball ought to do it. And if Baseball won't do it (at this point, if you're thinking Baseball will do it because it just makes sense, remember who the commissioner is), then I hope Bill Gates starts liking baseball a whole lot.


© Bucketfoot Baseball Publications, 1999