It took all of the second day in Cooperstown to make it through the balance of the Museum – and it did not disappoint. There’s so much I could write about but I think the photos I posted on TigersHistory.com tell the tale more vividly. Yet, one dimension in particular stands out and deserves a few words: the detail of the Museum.
The Museum is rooted in the minutiae of baseball and the memories these otherwise mundane objects evoke. You’d expect to see artifacts from Hank Aaron’s chase for the Babe, Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters and Rickey Henderson’s stolen base exploits. But it’s the other stuff that held me rapt. For example:
- The cornerstone from Ebbets Field
- The wall panel from Tiger Stadium’s deepest reaches – the 440-foot mark
- A deep-blue leather jacket from the Philadelphia Athletics
- The rotating thingy that sat atop the centerfield scoreboard at old Comiskey Park
- A scorebook from a Tigers/Indians game from the early 1970s
- The shoes worn by Hall of Fame National League umpire Doug Harvey in his final game in 1992
And so much more. Of course, there was lot of Tigers miscellany, some curious of not outright dubious.
For example, in the Tigers locker, part of the Today’s Game exhibit, you’ll find the hat worn by Luis Pujols when he managed against the Royals’ Tony Pena in June 2002. It marked the first time managers from the Dominican Republic faced each other. The fact someone has that on their radar and thinks to make contact ahead of time with the Royals and Tigers is astounding and impressive.
Also in the Museum is the hat worn by Octavio Dotel on April 7 when he appeared in a game for his record-setting 13th different club.
In a way it’s cool that these items are in Cooperstown, but these two names representing the Tigers with Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Hal Newhouser, Mickey Cochrane, George
Kell and Al Kaline? Kind of a joke, I thought. But the more I considered it, the more I appreciated that the seemingly minor and mostly forgotten stories of people like Pujols and Dotel shape the narrative and history of baseball.
I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
As we departed for the grueling drive back to Detroit I wondered when I’d get back to Cooperstown. Chances are it won’t be soon.
Until that time, I’ll be keeping a more watchful eye on the historical aspects as they happen and cherish a trip of a lifetime with my Dad, brother and brothers in law.
Listen to George Kell call the Tigers’ last division-clinching win.
In honor of George Kell’s birthday, here’s some terrific video from the Tigers’ clubhouse after they clinched the American League pennant in 1968.
This is the first of three installments — the others to follow.
There are a few new nuggets here. It’s nice to see The New York Times remembering George Kell.
Sad news from Swifton, Arkansas, today.
I grew up with George Kell and he will always be my favorite broadcaster — apologies to Ernie.
Two years ago I had the honor of interviewing him on the podcast. If you haven’t listened to it, and you want to hear his voice again, check it out here.
I’m sure I’ll write more later but feel free to use the comments to share your memories of George Kell.