“We’re connecting a whole country to our collection,” said Andy Couch, the associate curator of traveling exhibitions for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was referring to the We are Baseball tour, a pop-up exhibit that I visited when it came to my hometown of Round Rock, Texas, one of seven cities around the country the traveling museum will visit in 2017. It was a memory-making place that got you as close to Cooperstown, New York, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as you could get without actually going there. I had an awesome chance to see history up close!
The Tour takes about three days to set up. Walking up to the gates and climbing the stairs to the large platform containing a video board playing MLB highlights was sensational. Five trailers containing the displays and artifacts sprawled out from the platform. I looked around at the enormous structure and was overwhelmed by the size.
We started at the Baseball Memories trailer, and when we opened the doors, I didn’t know what to expect. I found highlights of famous games and historical artifacts as well as a wall covered in sticky notes containing memories from fans, some of them kids. “The memories have to be my favorite part. They’re always really fun to read,” said Couch as he relayed baseball lore while we walked through the exhibit. “In the museum world we call this a ‘participatory interactive!’”
The next trailer we went into was called the Hall of Famers exhibit. I really enjoyed this one because it had many cool things to do and see. First, I was able to design my own Hall of Fame plaque, putting myself in history. I could honor myself for being the world’s fastest base runner or best jokester! In another interactive display, I got the chance to interview Hall of Famers and learn more about their place in baseball history. Finally, I was able to see each plaque as it would look in Cooperstown.” Said a 12-year old fan I met, “I really liked seeing all of the plaques because it told you interesting information about each of the players.”
We visited two other displays, one historical and one interactive. Diversity In Baseball included cool artifacts from the past. It honored the impact that greats like Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson made on the game, as well as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and Beep Baseball League, a league for the blind.
In the interactive one, called Our Traditions, there was a long table with all 30 teams displayed showing interesting baseball facts. There were also fun games to play and some unusual artifacts like a vending bucket, the vintage tool used to make hot dogs. “It’s crazy to think that people have been eating hot dogs at baseball games for the past century!” said Couch.
The tour also brought two virtual reality exhibits, which I had a blast seeing! I was able to relive the miraculous World Series in 2016, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians to claim the championship for the first time since 1908! I also really enjoyed playing Home Run Derby, a new game that made me feel like I was at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, crushing homers over the fence. Lastly, I visited the IMAX theater, where I saw a film about the game’s popularity around the world.
I had a great time at the Tour. I learned lots of cool information about the Hall of Fame and baseball history. It was a great experience I’ll never forget!
Photographs by (from top) Riley Ziyas (2); courtesy of MLB.com