In The Shadow Of Giants… And Yankees, And Cubs, And Rays

Pre-Production

As I have written on multiple occasions, when given any opportunity, I partake in baseball adventures (see Opening Day And The Best. Night. Ever. from September 2021) due to my mild addiction to America’s classic stick-and-ball game. I cannot say with certainty that my affection for America’s pastime began genetically from my grandfather (see In The Footsteps Of My Grandfather from April 2012) or from the summer nights spent passing time with my own boys. Whatever its source, my fandom ties to more than a team or a stat, but to the history and legacy of the sport. Given my particular fascination with the sport, exploring Cooperstown (see The Mile High Club from December 2011) represents the trek up the mountain to experience my own personal nirvana.

Somewhere between my travel to the Pacific northwest (see And The Moon Rose Over An Open Field from February 2012) and nearing the completion of Project Fifty (see Forty-Nine from August 2012), I spent a mostly mundane weekend cleaning my house and listening to a Yankees game on television.  Joining the broadcasters in the booth, Billy Crystal chatted about his upcoming autumn event: headlining the baseball film festival at Cooperstown with a screening of his 2001 film, 61*.  I stopped the cleaning and tuned in to the details to get key specifics. My geeky gears began rotating, and suddenly the excuse I never really needed to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame shifted me into actively-planning mode. In addition to a weekend of baseball-themed shorts and full-length movies from my favorite film genre, I would finally visit a specific destination on my bucket list. Another two states would also get checked off my dwindling travel list.

Live Action

Getting a ticket to all the best events simply required membership in the HOF, a requirement that feels more like a treat. On arrival day, I check into my cabin north of town just past the lake and then about-face back to town earlier than necessary to find food and avoid small-town parking antics. I stream into the private event after regular business hours with all the other baseball nuts and movie nerds desperate to soak in every plaque, sculpture, exhibit, and piece of memorabilia. By the time I enter legend hall, and the names and images of every inductee, I realize I will need to start again tomorrow and make time to see much more than is possible tonight.

The challenge becomes which movies throughout the gala I must forego for my stroll through the history that I’ve waited a lifetime to savor. Besides the story of Mantle versus Maris, I catch a French film complete with subtitles, short romantic comedies, and a documentary that would urge me to another piece of baseball history the following year (see Springtime In Chicago from April 2013). The weekend in the eastern New York woods also springboards a post-production passion for more hints of my spectator hobby. Tickets to Fenway, the new Busch Stadium, and Target Field find their way into my hands and even at a slower pace, I still want to visit Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Camden Field, and all the places where baseball history continues to be made.

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