Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where Are We?

I'd mentioned that I was visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame last weekend. I'd been to the Hall of Fame several times before, but not in over 10 years. The Hall itself is, of course, Baseball Mecca as it were, but for those in my audience who haven't ever visited, I'll give a brief background.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, NY, a sleepy little village located in Upstate New York, somewhere in between Binghamton, Albany and Syracuse. Cooperstown itself is a charming little town with one stoplight and a small main drag where the Hall of Fame is located. Also on this drag are a number of charming little stores selling all sorts of Baseball-related tchochkes. The Hall itself is constantly evolving; their collection ranges far beyond what's actually on display and they have exhibits that rotate in and out from time to time.

That said, every time I've visited Cooperstown, there has always been a wide array of Mets items on display.

For some reason, this was not the case this time around. I can't think of a good reason why this has happened.

I spent a good few hours browsing the shops along Main Street, where I found only one store that had any kind of decent selection of Mets items (mostly overpriced T-shirts). Baseball cards, forget it. But if you rooted for a team like the Yankees, or the Red Sox, or even the Phillies, you could pick and choose from whatever you wanted. Just not the Mets. This didn't sit well with me.

Then, I went into the Hall of Fame.

I know that the Mets don't have the storied history of certain franchises, but they do have a history, and a pretty damn good one at that. But if you want to go to the Hall of Fame and learn about the Mets, don't waste your time, because they've barely bothered to acknowledge them. And that's a crime.

Don't get me wrong, there's some Mets-related displays here and there. There's a small photo of Joan Payson located in a "Women in Baseball" section. Further along, there's a photo of Tom Seaver, the lone Met represented in the Hall of Fame, aside from a jersey of his in the Baseball History timeline section. Moving further along, into the "Locker Room" section, where items from each team are shown, there's a baseball that Johan Santana used in his No Hitter this season, which quickly made its way to Cooperstown. But if you're looking for something interesting in the Mets display, well, I can't really share that with you, because I didn't see anything of note.

There's a few things worth mentioning in the Hall of Records section, somewhat begrudgingly, as if they had to mention these token Mets because they hold records of some significance. Mike Piazza's bat, which he used to break the Catching Home Run record in 2004, is there, as is Tom Seaver's glove that he used when he struck out 10 batters in a row. Also buried in the back of a display case is a "K" sign that was "one of many used to count strikeouts notched by Mets rookie Dwight Gooden during games at Shea Stadium in 1984."

The World Series section also gives the Mets short shrift. There is a video display that does show the 1969 Mets winning their World Series Championship, but once that video loops around to the 1980s, there's the Dodgers, and the Cardinals, and the Tigers, and the Twins...

...But no Mets. Where are the 1986 Mets? Where is, perhaps, the most memorable little roller in the History of Baseball? The only thing there is a small photo of Ray Knight, in a corner on an adjacent wall. Not even worth a photo.

But that's not the most galling part of this trip.

On the 3rd floor, is a hall of Ballparks. There are displays and items from all sorts of ballparks, from those long gone to the current time. You're greeted with a full panorama display of Ebbets Field when you enter the room. On one side is an Astrodome display. On the other side, a full row of seats from Veterans Stadium, right next to a giant Philly Phanatic costume. There's displays from Three Rivers Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, any stadium you could think of. I was delighted to see this, and went searching around, because certainly, there had to be some items from Shea Stadium, right?


Well, there wasn't anything. Just a little ignominious sign on a timeline, that said something like Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets, 1964-2008. No seats. No bricks. No photos. No nothing.

So, let me get this straight. You can put out a row of seats from boring, decrepit, doughnut-shaped Veterans Stadium, but Shea Stadium, which was unique and iconic for its time (and outlasted The Vet by several years) gets nothing? That ruined my visit right then and there.

Well, I guess I can't say there's nothing whatsoever from Shea. Buried somewhere in the recesses of the Hall, by the Kids Klubhouse or whatever it's called, there was one piece from Shea, though. It was the retired number circle for Casey Stengel from the outfield wall. You know, back where nobody would notice it.

The gift shop was no better. There was a Mets shirt that listed "Mets Hall of Famers," and right at the top of it was Roberto Alomar. Roberto Alomar was certainly a Met, although we'd rather forget that, and he's certainly a Hall of Famer. But a Met Hall of Famer? No thank you.

So, in summation, this is an open complaint to the Hall of Fame. I came to see the Mets well and rightly represented, and I was sorely let down. This is the fifth time I've visited the Hall, and every time prior, there was plenty of Mets stuff on display. Now, they're being shoved off into corners, only acknowledged because it appears like they have to be, not because they should be. This isn't right. Even my girlfriend, not a Baseball fan, noticed this. Why are the Mets being ignored? Am I the only one who's made this trip recently to notice this? What have the Mets done to merit this treatment? I'm incensed enough by all this that I'm compelled to write a letter to the Hall expressing my displeasure. Maybe I'm nuts, but the Mets deserve more recognition then they're receiving, all over Cooperstown.

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