Wooden's World of Baseball

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Mall Comes To Cooperstown

Last week, thanks to the threat of rain in southern Virginia and North Carolina, I went with Plan B and drove up to Cooperstown for the third time in six years. As it turns out, it was sunny and 70 degrees in central New York and from the perspective of avoiding bad weather, it was a success.

However, from the primay factor of avoiding disappointment (like driving several hours to see a game that was rained out), it was a mixed bag. Obviously, I came Cooperstown to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and it did not disappoint. But I also came to shop, looking for some more unique treasures... and another one of my favorite sweatshirts that I like to bring to the ballpark for the late innings when it starts to get just a little chilly.

The name of that store was on the label, so I thought it'd be a slam-dunk to go back there and find what I was looking for. Turns out that Cooperstown Gear has changed ownership, and none of those sweatshirts were to be found.

If it had simply been that I couldn't find what I wanted, it would be one thing. But then I noticed something. On the outside, this looked like most of the other memorabilia stores. But on the inside, it was no different and no better than the cheap t-shirt shop you'd see at a second-rate strip mall, offering moronic variations of the Yankees/Sox rivalry and sophomoric references to nocturnal penile tumescence.

Even better, I was offered the privilege of having such drivel ironed onto the flimsy polyester of my choice. In an array of colors and a variety of styles. But worse, this kind of crap was to be found in several of the other shops.

And I guess that's what bothers me; that this town, built on a myth, which purportedly goes to great lengths to keep up the facade of the 1950s main street, would tolerate folks selling merchandise that one usually finds on the beaten paths between tourist traps. This is central New York, not central Florida, right?

Yes, there are still shops in Cooperstown that recognize the reason that people come there: To celebrate and venerate the history and legends of baseball. National Pastime, Legends Are Forever, Where It All Began, and Mickey's Place, just to name a few. But I worry that the catering to the lowbrow "fans" will continue, and I have to admit. It's going to be a few more years before I'm willing to find out.


  • Never been to Cooperstown,but have always wanted to go there combined with a trip to the nearest NY/Penn league Team.
    Sounds like they had better be careful on losing what made so special.

    By Blogger Shawn, at 5/24/2008 8:05 AM  

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