A Chicago Cubs fan takes in the National Baseball Hall of Fame
At 36 years old, I decided that it was finally time for me to take a pilgrimage to what many refer to as baseball’s mecca, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I found it to be both an interesting and an inspiring place, and there is plenty there for Chicago Cubs fans to take in as well.
The timeline section of the tour of the museum, which takes up a good portion of the first part, pays homage to both the Cubs of the 1906-1908 era that won three straight NL pennants and two World Series titles and the 1929/1932/1935/1938 NL pennant-winning teams. A section toward the end, chronicling MLB’s recent era, contained artifacts from the Joe Maddon era Cubs that broke the 108-year drought and won the World Series in 2016.
I found the plaque area, toward the end of the tour, to be the most inspiring place. I made sure to visit and take pictures of the plaques of many Cubs greats, including Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Lee Smith. One can feel their presence and greatness by observing and taking in the plaques.
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Chicago Cubs: There’s a lot in Cooperstown, but some things missing as well.
Though the museum pays tribute to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and the great home run chase of 1998, Sosa’s plaque is noticeably absent, along with that of several great players of that era who are linked to steroid use. (Of course, we can debate all day whether those players deserve induction.)
Another notable absence is that of Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes, who is currently in his 26th season behind the radio microphone and also is now doing TV work. It’s too bad that he hasn’t been honored by the Hall of Fame yet, though given his accomplishments, it (hopefully) seems to be a matter of time before he gets in.
Two great moments in Cubs history also seemed to get relatively little attention in the exhibits: Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game and the World Series victory of 2016. I was surprised that there were no artifacts from Wood’s game, while the exhibits paid much more attention to the Boston Red Sox’s curse-breaking victory of 2004. (White Sox fans: Your 2005 White Sox drought-breaking victory didn’t get much attention either.)
Overall, despite the shortcomings mentioned above, I found the Hall of Fame to be a place that further inspired my passion for baseball and the Chicago Cubs in particular. I would recommend that all fans make the journey to Cooperstown at some point if they ever get the opportunity. It will add a new dimension to your experience as a fan.