I will never tire of walking the halls of The Hall
I will never tire of walking the halls of The Hall. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, to be exact.
Over the last 50 years I have visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum more times than I can count. Some visits have been for a celebration honoring someone. Other times it’s been to learn more about a book author that is there. I’ve taken my intern teams to Cooperstown for a day filled with baseball and Danny’s Market for lunch. Easily became a traditional when you are immersed in baseball.
Over time, those visits have always been unique.
Different displays, different celebrations, and always something exciting to see and do.
I’m sure you will agree, there is no way one person can ever take in all the baseball history in their lifetime of visits. Every time I am there I notice something new.
I’m a lucky man to be able to say that Jeff Idelson, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and I are friends. He is a genuine individual and his motivations are always on point. We are lucky to have such a leader in our greater community. Most certainly, The Hall is very lucky that he is sharing his leadership with them.
Today, while walking the halls of The Hall I stood in front of this display in awe. I’m going to take the time to share what it says, because my smartphone photo doesn’t make taking it in all that easy.
Roberto Clemente: The Great One
Though Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest right fielders of all time, his humanitarianism may be his lasting legacy. When he learned that relief supplies were not reaching Nicaraguan earthquake victims, he chose to fly with the aid packages himself. He perished when the plane he boarded on New Year’s Eve of 1972 crashed into the ocean soon after takeoff.
“He had about him the touch of royalty.” ~Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn on Roberto Clemente, January 1, 1973
Bat On September 30, 1972, Roberto Clemente swung this bat for his 3,000th and final regular-season hit, only the 11th player to reach the milestone. Three months later, the beloved Pirates star was gone.
Donated by Roberto Clemente and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After taking this picture today, I stood there in awe. I am no athlete, but my heart is well grounded in helping others. I have a picture of Roberto Clemente in my home office. I bat things around with him from time to time. It’s certainly the only time I would have a bat in my hands! Roberto Sr. and I are so different, yet so alike.
I never considered that “different yet alike” concept until I was interviewed for an article over at Dreaming of Cooperstown. Check it out when you have a few extra minutes. Scott’s perspective of our interview gifted me with a very different outlook on the good works we do here at Roberto’s Kids. My team shared out that article here as well.
I am also lucky to share that the library director, Jim Gates, and I are friends. Jim has served as library director at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum since 1995 where he is responsible for the management of more than 3.0 million documents related to our great national pastime.
I wonder if you know that this collection that he oversees includes books, player files, photographs, scrapbooks, personal papers and many hours of recorded media.
Jim and his staff work with museum curators, the media, publishers, educators, researchers, fans, and anyone who is interested in conducting baseball research. He had previously served in academic libraries for almost fifteen years. He’s an expert is so many things baseball.
While Jim and I don’t share the same favorite team, we share the same love for baseball history. Being friends brought to me an experience that I am indebted to Jim for, and will never forget.
In the summer of 2014, I had the privilege of holding Roberto Sr.’s baseball uniform in my own hands. Anyone who is a baseball fan on my level will be able to imagine the emotion I experienced. The beating of my heart was deafening and I’m so surprised that this picture isn’t blurry, because my hands were shaking.
As if that wasn’t enough emotion for my aging ticker, there was more.
Fingerprints and all, I also had the privilege of holding Roberto Sr.’s baseball cap in my hands. Not just any game-day cap either. This cap is the very cap that Roberto was wearing when he achieved his 3,000th hit and final MLB hit.
I’m not going to lie, I could barely hold it together. What a tremendous honor Jim, and The Hall, gave to me that day.
Prior to this day, the closest connection I have ever felt to Roberto Clemente, Sr. has been while shaking Luis Clemente’s or Roberto Clemente Jr.’s hands. As well, having the opportunity to hug Roberto Sr.’s widow, Vera Clemente, when we spend time together.
While those are rewarding experiences for me, this experience allowed me to feel like I was standing beside Roberto Clemente Sr. in some sense.
I wasn’t lucky enough to ever attend a baseball game that Roberto was playing in. I’m going to guess that my experience is very similar to recollections many of you have from the day you were at a ball field watching Roberto in action.
All in all, I know we are all better people for those special Clemente moments we have each experienced. And, of course, I will never tire of walking the halls of The Hall. I’d love to learn what you enjoy most at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Maybe it’s something I have yet to notice. I’ll be able to check it out the next time I am there.