Evidently, nothing happened in history, and I had no random thoughts, over the last two weeks of radio silence.
What can I say, I got busy, and it snowed and stuff.
But I just checked in with my historic history sources and discovered that on this day in 1936, the first inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. were elected. (They were announced Feb. 2. Nitpicking.)
I am no hall of fame scholar, but I do know that the myth created and perpetuated by the founders and keepers of the baseball shrine – in the then-economically impaired village of Cooperstown, for crying out loud – is a monument to American enterprise, ingenuity and imagination.
That is to say, you do realize the tale of Civil War stalwart Abner Doubleday somehow inventing baseball in the bucolic meadows of Cooperstown is as tall as it is fanciful as it is fake.
Nonetheless, the notion of the privately founded and operated hall took. The first players were elected in 1936 and the building was dedicated June 12, 1939, when four classes – 11 players in all – were inducted.
Those first five in 1936? Ty Cobb. Walter Johnson. Christy Mathewson. Babe Ruth. Honus Wagner. Ruth was the only one of the five who played into the ‘30s; his last game was May 30, 1935.
Ruth died 13 years later, at age 53.
Cooperstown has become a must-visit for youth travel-baseball teams with its Cooperstown Dreams Park tournaments. I never took a team there, kind of missed that wave. In fact, I have visited the hall I think just twice; as a kid with my family and then on a road trip for work, just passing through.
I recall them as pleasant visits, obviously not for everyone. Cooperstown was pretty. The ghost of Abner Doubleday did not appear, rattling a musket and a hickory bat.
They built it in Cooperstown, and I’ll be damned, people still come.
That’s about it.
- Jackson Browne tonight. He was Running on Empty a couple of weeks ago and had to cancel. His singer-songwriter bro Glenn Frey died in the meantime, springing a Fountain of Sorrow around These Days. Browne is no Pretender, he sings strong and clear. We’ll Take it Easy and enjoy what could be a poignant evening.
- One part of me cannot believe the election season has barely even begun, and that we won’t go to the damn polls for Presidential keeps for 10 more months. Another part of me watches in stunned wonder as the most surreal political theater we could ever hope to see (please God, no more) unspools before our eyes 24/7. Pray for ‘Merica.
- As a rule I avoid all Super Bowl build-up chatter, which I admit is harder and harder to accomplish. I prided myself on that even as I wound down my fulltime sports writing career. The onslaught and inanity of most of it just became wearying. But I’ve somehow managed to pick up on an apparent “controversy” revolving around whether people like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, one of the most freak of nature athletes you will ever see. Newton is big into self-celebration and speaking his mind often immaturely, which naturally rubs a major segment of sports fans (re the old schoolers) really wrong. But here’s the thing: he’s a tremendous leader. Just tremendous. And he’s grown into a phenomenal NFL quarterback. Carolina will take apart Denver and its noble, fume-sucking Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Could be ugly. But speaking of Newton, this commercial he made a couple of years ago remains one of my all-time favorites. He approaches it with a fun twinkle, and little Nate is just the best. Take a look and listen.