Friend of HBT Nathaniel Rakich writes about the Hall of Fame at The Hardball Times today. But not about its inductees. He writes about its location: Cooperstown, New York. The small village a good four hours away from major population centers. Rakich proposes changing that by moving it to The Big Apple:
I picture a gleaming, modern museum ready to tell baseball’s story. It could be adjacent to the site of Ebbets Field or on the grounds of the old Yankee Stadium. It could sit on the Chelsea waterfront, with a spectacular view of baseball’s true birthplace, Elysian Fields. It could be anywhere with a New York City address and a nearby subway stop. But it can’t be in Cooperstown much longer.
I’ve toyed with this notion from time to time and, at various times, thought it might be a good idea. It’d probably be better for the Hall’s bottom line. More people would go there, I reckon. If you’re thinking about it in utilitarian terms, it’s hard to argue against such an idea, actually. But ultimately I couldn’t support it, mostly because thinking in utilitarian terms is kind of a drag and when you think about “the greatest good for the greatest number” you necessarily have to contend with what happens to the lesser number.
The village of Cooperstown is, in a lot of ways, built around the Hall of Fame. There’s more going on there, of course — some great beer for one thing, small businesses and other charms of small town life — but it’s a key part of the village’s identity and economic prosperity. Would it be better for the Hall to be in New York? Quite possibly. But we’ve seen enough migration of business from small towns to large cities in the several decades. It’d be nice to stop that at some point, somewhere.
More broadly, I think there’s something to be said for taking a literal journey once in a while, and leaving the cities most of us call home to visit small towns nestled in the countryside in order to experience the pastoral joys of baseball history is one of those instances. Or pastoral-ish. I realize baseball largely grew up in New York and that Cooperstown’s connection to baseball history is based on a myth, but it’s a myth surrounded by a lot of peaceful and pretty things. There’s something to be said for that too.
Ultimately this is all just talk. The Hall of Fame is steadfast in its support of Cooperstown and always has been. There’s nothing to suggest it’d consider a move. If it ever did, though, I’d be against it. A nice drive is good for the soul.