Trip of a lifetime

Visiting the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown can be life-changing

The Hall of Fame is truly a special place.

Today, Cooperstown New York enjoys a quaint little place in the world. Once a year though, it is the epicenter of baseball glory. On the last weekend in July, thousands of people flock to those hallowed grounds to witness the induction of the latest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

I have been one of those fans, and the experience was one of the greatest sports moments in my life. But that was only one weekend; the museum is open year-round and there is still plenty more to enjoy around town and the surrounding areas.

The museum

The museum is the centerpiece of the town for obvious reasons. It is a three-story shrine to America’s national pastime, founded in 1936 by Stephen Clark. It was created as a result of a 1905 commission that concluded the first “scheme for playing baseball” was devised by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York. Clark purchased the first modern baseball from 1839 and displayed it with other objects in Cooperstown in 1935 drawing the attention necessary to create the Hall of Fame and Museum a year later.

At the heart of it all is the Hall of Fame Gallery. This is the cathedral-like room in which the bronze plaques representing each of the members are displayed. The first group of players was inducted into the Hall in 1936. They were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson. Since those first five men were inducted there have been only a few hundred more elected to join them in more than 80 years. There have been thousands of players going in and out of professional baseball during its history and the members of the Hall of Fame comprise only about 1 percent of them. That number demonstrates the enormous difficulty of accomplishing what these players have done.

That is just one section of the museum. The other two floors are full of wall-to-wall history of the sport. From exhibits dedicated to Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron to the incredible pieces of stadiums that have long since been torn down, visitors can travel back in time to eras of baseball long gone by. If you stop to read every piece of literature it can take a full day to see it all. Those who just like to take a brief look will still spend a few hours taking it all in. 

Induction weekend

If you decide to plan your trip around induction weekend, there are a whole host of other activities that are available for you to enjoy. Doubleday Field is located just behind Main Street in the center of town. In the days before and after induction weekend there are little league games here, offering young kids the opportunity to play the game they love in the place dedicated to its history. If you are looking for other times to visit that offer large events, there is the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic played Memorial Day weekend. That game brings recently retired players from every major league team together to be coached by Hall of Famers in an exhibition game.

In addition to the events at Doubleday Field around induction weekend, there is the Hall of Fame Parade on Saturday. Dozens of Hall of Famers ride down Main Street while thousands in attendance line the route waving and cheering them on. You can cheer as living legends of the game ride by while the announcer recalls their great career achievements. Be ready to take a lot of pictures. And if you’re so inclined, you can join the folks who camp out overnight across from the museum. The parade route ends there, and some of the players come down from their vehicles and sign autographs for the fans.

The ceremony

The biggest event of induction weekend is the ceremony that takes place about a mile away from the museum at the Clark Sports Complex. It is named after the founder and is led by his granddaughter. This event brings back as many members of the Hall of Fame as can make the trip to sit on the stage and watch the newest members get inducted. Each member that comes to the stage is preceded by a video highlight reel of his career. Thousands of fans sit out on the grass and watch as this all unfolds, leading up to the introduction of the year’s newest members.

Those new inductees are brought to the stage with an introduction video in which someone important to their career details what got them to this moment. It’s a stirring feeling to watch these videos and see the players enter the stage. As they arrive, the crowd reaches a fever pitch. There are some other awards given out and then the program moves on to the presentation of each member’s bronze plaque and speech. One by one, the plaques are read and speeches are given, reflecting on long careers, loved ones, friends and teammates along the way. The July sun was out in full force, but in Central New York the weather was still pleasant. The ceremony is long, so be sure to prepare with plenty of sunscreen and a chair to sit down and rest your legs. An umbrella would be useful as well.

Shopping

You will have plenty of time between events to make your way up and down Main Street to shop in the multitude of stores. Most have baseball memorabilia, so be prepared to find a million things you want to buy but know you shouldn’t. I am a baseball card collector so naturally I wanted to buy every card autographed by a Hall of Famer. In addition to baseball cards there were autographed pictures and baseball bats and many more items sure to please any fan. During induction weekend, just about every shop sets up a table outside the store to catch the eye of the thousands walking up and down the street.

In addition to the memorabilia shops there are several places to purchase Hall of Fame clothing. There are T-shirts, jerseys and hats available for every major league team. There are also several shops that sell Cooperstown merchandise.

Dining

While you’re out walking around town you will certainly work up an appetite. The food choices available are many. If breakfast is what you want, then the Doubleday Café or the Cooperstown Diner have just what you need. I had breakfast at both places, and you can’t go wrong. I thought the Cooperstown Café was the best but its small dining room can leave you waiting outside for some time. If you are only interested in picking up a small breakfast, your best bet is to stop by Schneider’s Bakery at the corner of Main Street and Chestnut.

Lunch and dinner opens quite a few more options. If you’re in a hurry you can grab a slice at Sal’s Pizzeria & Restaurant or Hey Getcha Hot Dog. But if you have time, visit The Back Alley Bar and Grill across the street from the museum or the Hard Ball Café. If you’re in town for induction weekend there is no limit to the number of vendors selling hot dogs, hamburgers, and sausage and pepper sandwiches right in front of their stores. The smell of it all was intoxicating, and I felt like I could have eaten at every one of those stands we passed. There are plenty of other options to choose from, including some of the local taverns located just off Main Street in the heart of town.

Cooley’s Tavern was the first one we visited while seeking out an adult beverage and lively entertainment. It was induction weekend so I had to assume that was why there was a jazz duo perched on the balcony playing all the hits. When we walked in there was a great feeling of nostalgia as we stared at a small room with a horseshoe bar as the centerpiece. There were booths off to the side and a back room with some TVs. But the bar was truly where the action was. Across the street was Sherman’s Tavern with a similar set up but more space to move around. There were several people enjoying themselves on the front steps of the tavern, giving the place a great hometown atmosphere.

Family entertainment

But if family entertainment is what you’re searching for then you can always take a trip to the Hall of Heroes Wax Museum where you can get a glimpse of what some of the Hall of Famers looked like in their prime. Additionally, you can take the short walk down to the lake and enjoy the scenery at the park or take in the sights on the one-hour lake tour. Those offer great views and a relaxing environment to break up the busyness that is shopping and sight-seeing.

Looking back at everything there is to see and do in Cooperstown, it’s no wonder people make the trip at different times of the year. Look carefully when you search for accommodations. When we took our trip, we chose to stay in Albany and make the one-and-a-half-hour drive every morning and evening. During induction weekend the prices for lodging in Cooperstown are through the roof. They decrease the further away from town you get; look separately at every little town that exists for the fit that suits your travel needs.

During induction weekend, there are thousands of people crowded into the streets and the energy is electric. It is one of the greatest events in professional sports and anyone who is a fan of baseball should make the effort to see it at least once. If you choose not to go that weekend, then choose the one that gives you the opportunity to see it all in your own way. Plan accordingly, and you will have a wonderful time with memories to cherish the rest of your life.

Ooh Look! Something else that makes us sick

How to avoid overtraining syndrome

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

So, I'm beginning to scout out my next runcation. This made me take a trip down memory lane. That's when I remembered my last full marathon. It was in Istanbul, Turkey. That was the hardest race I've ever run from training to the finish line.

I thought about the fact that I trained all by myself, the fact that I didn't have a coach. The trip cost $10,000, so I was working double and triple time (remember I was a waitress and that's a lot of shifts), the fact that I was so stressed that in my down time, I just ate and drank ( I believe an entire order of wings and cakes from Max's Wine Dive). One time, after a long day of work and training, as I climbed into bed, I was literally shaking uncontrollably.

When I got to Turkey, I had to get over jet-lag. We got sick and had to run sick (but I did it) and one of my travel companions was flat out trippin (women!") if this sounds like a nightmare, it was! So why did this happen?

Full disclosure: I had a faulty training program and suffered from overtraining syndrome. I know, I know. You are asking yourself, is that a real thing? It's real and I don't want it to happen to you. I'm going to tell you what it is, how you can diagnose it on yourself, and some low cost home remedies and preventative measures you can take.

So, what is it? Basically, due to a poorly planned training, (for anything, not just running) there is an imbalance between workout and recovery. No matter how the imbalance is, the result is poor habits, poor performance, and injuries. What's interesting is, that overtraining syndrome affects the mental, emotional, nutritional, and neurological well being of the athlete.

So what can we do to prevent this from getting to our bucket list destinations? Here they are:

Hydrate:

We are told this so many times. I'm guilty too. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. Water keeps our muscles and joints lubed up. It makes recovery easy and there is less chance we get sick. Drinking anti-oxidant rich drinks like tart cherry and pomegranate juice gives an added boost.

Rest:

I know, we got goals! We can power through anything! No matter how strong you are, you need rest. So what is rest? Here are some examples:

  1. Getting off your feet and reading a book.
  2. Baking some cookies. ( you earned it).
  3. Watching a movie.
  4. Going to eat with friends.
Whatever you do, no training. Just don't overdo it.
Sleep:
Sleep is so crucial. Especially training. This is where all the training you have done gets put to work. Your muscles get repaired. Your brain is reset and every morning, you get to wake up excited about your training.
Soak:
This is such a treat. There is nothing quite as nice as ripping open a fresh bag of Dr. Teal's Epson Salt, pouring it in a steamy tub of water as hot as you can stand, lighting candles, and taking a nice long soak. You lay there listening to Jill Scott while inhaling the relaxing scent of grapefruit with charcoal. It is great for your mind and eases sore muscles.
Stretching:
When you get out of the tub, this is a great time to stretch your muscles. During any training, you will get aches and pains. Stretching a warm muscle will keep your muscles pliable and with the right tension. This season, I'm going to pay extra attention to this one. Not stretching is where most injuries happen. If you don't know what to do, you tube has many stretching and yoga videos.
Foam RollIng:
This is the foam tube that you see at the gym propped against the wall in the trainer's station. Most people look at this tool dumbfounded. Basically, you lay on the roller in various positions to hit your muscles at the right pressure points. It perfectly assists stretching to keep you without injury. You can use one at your gym, but you can buy your own for about $25 to $75 at stores like Academy, Amazon, or Target.
So, let's set some goals and plan workout and recovery in our training. It's easy to get lazy, but with practice, we can form good training habits.


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