On this day in 1939, one of America’s most beloved pastimes became iconized in the heart and soul of fans everywhere as The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was officially dedicated. But there’s a “story within a story” that bears retelling.
In the early 1900’s, a commission was assembled to study the origins of the game of baseball. The Mills Commission, as it was deemed, determined that the game appeared to be the “invention” of a man named Abner Doubleday in none other than Cooperstown, New York as early as 1839. To buttress the theory, what was soon to be known as the “Doubleday baseball” was found resting inside of a farmhouse in that very town.
Stephen C. Clark a local businessman and philanthropist bought the ball for a mere $5 and shrewdly “enshrined” the priceless collector’s item in a single-room “museum” dedicated to America’s favorite sport. The tiny attraction, intended by Clark to be a boon to area tourism during tough economic times, soon garnered the attention of many, and not just the locals.
In 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame was officially up and running, not coincidentally on the same date as the “centennial celebration” of baseball. And by this time the landmark had already inducted a handful of the best players in the business into its hallowed hall of fame. The “Georgia Peach,” aka Ty Cobb, was one of the first.
And then in 1962, America’s favorite pastime once again made history by inducting the incomparable Jackie Robinson as the first African American into the Hall of Fame.
For diehard fans of the game, perhaps nothing was quite as enthralling as the Annual Hall of Fame Game which was a 67 year traditional since its first game in 1940 played on Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. Sadly, in 2008, the long-standing ceremonial event came to a close.
It’s hard to overstate America’s enduring love-affair with the sport of baseball. From the dusty little league diamonds in every small town in America, to the meticulously groomed fields that host the pinnacle event in the sport of baseball, the World Series, the game that began humbly in a small town in upstate New York truly embodies all that is great about our glorious nation.