Dear Baseball Fans,
Baseball history is made every day… Cy Young wins his 511th game, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig lead “Murderers' Row,” Ted Williams hits .406, Jackie Robinson is Rookie of the Year, Willie Mays makes “The Catch,” “Dem Bums” win the 1955 World Series, Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game, Hank Aaron hits home run No. 715, Nolan Ryan pitches his 7th no-hitter, Cal Ripken, Jr. plays in 2,632 consecutive games, Ichiro breaks George Sisler’s single-season record for hits, Derek Jeter sets the all-time hits record for shortstops, the Giants bring a championship to San Francisco, Mariano Rivera says goodbye at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox win a World Series for the third time in 10 years … and the milestones continue.
These lasting memories along with thousands more, have been documented, preserved, brought to life and celebrated, in Cooperstown everyday since the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors nearly 75 years ago.
June 12, 1939 marked the official dedication of the National Baseball Museum, and solidified Cooperstown’s roll as the spiritual home of baseball. The first four Hall of Fame classes from 1936, ‘37, ‘38 and ‘39 – 25 men in all – were formally enshrined that day. Eleven of those Hall of Famers were living, and all took the train to Cooperstown to attend the Ceremony. Grover Cleveland Alexander, Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth, George Sisler, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner and Cy Young were welcomed by a crowd of more than 15,000 fans as they set the path for so many other greats to follow.
During his induction speech, Babe Ruth said, “They started something here and the kids are keeping the ball rolling. I hope some of you kids will be in the Hall of Fame. I’m very glad that in my day I was able to earn my place. And I hope youngsters of today have the same opportunity to experience such feeling.” Ruth’s words could not have rang more true for guys like Yogi Berra, 14 at the time, Ernie Banks and Willie Mays, who were 8, and Hank Aaron, who was 5. Little did they know, that one day, they too would call Cooperstown home.
What started as a one-room museum in 1939, is now a state-of-the art, 50,000 square foot history museum dedicated to baseball and its impact on American culture and values. Under one roof we are a museum and library, an education center, and a hall of fame. One can easily draw the parallel that Cooperstown is baseball’s version of the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, rolled into one. Over the last 75 years, the Hall of Fame has welcomed nearly 16 million visitors, collected over 3 million library documents, 250,000 photographs, 135,000 baseball cards, 40,000 artifacts, 14,000 hours of recorded media and honored 300 Hall of Famers.
The impact we have had in eight decades and continue to have would not be possible without the generous support of baseball fans like you. We are humbled by your generosity. THANK YOU! As we look ahead to our 75th anniversary next year, we ask that you consider a gift to our Annual Fund. With your support we will preserve baseball’s valuable treasures, share the rich history of our National Pastime with baseball fans of all ages and levels of interest, and reach thousands of school children through our compelling education programs.
Because of generous individuals like you, we have truly evolved into a world-class museum, and a destination for baseball fans to recapture and relive their favorite memories. The heart of the Museum is our collection, which continues to grow thanks to the spirit of giving from players, teams and fans who donate their relics to Cooperstown. Though every item in our collection has been donated, there is a significant cost associated with conserving, preserving, cataloging, photographing, digitizing and researching each piece. With your support, we will continue to care for each of these one-of-a-kind artifacts in our Museum collection and Library archive.
Beyond our collections and archive, the Hall of Fame delivers educational programs, both in person at the Museum and through videoconference technology, to thousands of students across North America, annually. Our award-winning curriculum uses baseball as a lens to teach core classroom topics including math, science, character education, geography and women’s history. Students are provided an enriching educational experience that is meaningful, fun and engaging. With your donation, education will continue to be a hallmark of the Hall of Fame’s mission.
Baseball fans, I hope we can count on you for a gift, to support our mission to preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations.
On behalf of our Board of Directors and entire staff in Cooperstown, thank you for your generosity. We are so grateful to have you on our team and look forward celebrating our 75th anniversary with you throughout 2014.With Good Wishes,
Jeff Idelson President