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EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008 at 7:46 PM

  (Login base_ball)

Not too many people get to see the stuff shown in the picture below, a tiny sampling of the thousands of cubic feet of baseball collectibles stored in the Hall of Fame basement in Cooperstown. The photo, which was snapped during a recent tour of the facility, should be enough to make members of this forum weep, certainly drool. Ahh, a Joe Cronin trophy... oooh, here we have some presentation silverware...looks like a Nolan Ryan jersey there on the bottom shelf. A couple of random thoughts:

1. What a waste!

2. The HOF reportedly possesses 35,000 three-dimensional objects (this does not include the 2-3 million pieces in the library). With virtual museum shelf space so cheap, you'd think that the Hall might "display" much of this stuff on their excellent web site. Perhaps this is under consideration.

3. What a waste!

4. That picture might make a great recruiting tool for auctioneers trying to lure collections from the families of ballplayers (or other possessors of "stuff") who are weighing between donation to the HOF or public sale. I'm sure the Munson & Whitey Ford families (see Hunt's upcoming All-Star auction) would rather have their artifacts loved in some basement on Long Island as opposed to sitting on a shelf in Upstate, NY.

5. What a waste!

Photobucket

 
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(Login Greatwake)
Registered Users

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:01 PM 

So true, Joseph.

I bought Pepper Martin's 1934 Cardinal contract. Couldn't wait for it to arrive. I was at my office when UPS appeared, I signed, and immediately opened the box. Wow, Pepper's Gashouse Gang contract... I immediately called the seller. He immediately thought something was wrong and I didn't like it. I assured him I was ecstatic, and felt bad having it. I thought I'd send it to the National Baseball Museum. He said, "Frank, please don't do that." And he paused. Then he explained that if it went to Cooperstown, it would be in a box in the basement and seldom seen. If I had it I could show it to folks. Cooperstown was a terrible place to send it.

I decided he was right. I loaned it, with some other Cardinal stuff, to the St. Louis Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. There it has been on display for quite some time, until recently. The Museum is packing up and relocating to a new facility adjacent to the new ball park. One thing I loaned was an Ernie Orsatti bat. Because the bat was there, it was in the photograph of 1930's stuff in Mike Eisenbath's The Cardinals Encyclopedia. He photographed some of my stuff, and there's an an acknowledgment on page 852, which I find kinda cool.

Please don't send baseball stuff to the National Baseball Museum. They have enough. Loan or give your stuff to someplace where it can be shared, instead of stored.

 
 


(Login calvindog)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:03 PM 

Pitiful. This picture belongs on one of those websites that bring to the public light information that is damning, shocking, outrageous, or amazing, yet also somewhat obscure or unreported by more mainstream media sources.

 
 


(Login base_ball)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:18 PM 

Jeff,

Like TMZ.com?

 
 


(Login base_ball)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:25 PM 

Frank,

It's amazing you mentioned the Cardinals museum...I was going to say (but i didn't want to go on and on) that I'd been there years ago and it's a GREAT little museum and that the HOF could easily work in conjuction with teams to create these little spinoffs in the great baseball cities, But, alas, that is asking WAY TOO MUCH. When MLB thinks collectibles these days, they think Steiner Sports...

 
 


(Login calvindog)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:29 PM 

Joe, TMZ is a bit too high brow for my taste. Something just under that perhaps.

 
 
Ed Ivey
(Login doubleday)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:38 PM 

I don't know why, but a famous movie ending just came to my mind.

"The Horror!...The Horror!" -Marlon Brando, Apocalypse Now.

 
 


(Login BRIANKW)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 8:57 PM 

Kind of reminds me of the end of Indiana Jones...


Be well Brian


PS Might as well send them to an auction house....


 
 

(Login carrigansghost)

XCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 9:01 PM 

Kind of reminds me of the time my grandfather fell into a huge vat of beer, he got out the first three times to to a leak, but alas the fourth trip was too much. Lock me in the basement for at least a year to look at everything.

Rawn

 
 


(Premier Login leonl)
Forum Owner

neat stuff

July 9 2008, 9:04 PM 

That is some neat looking stuff. It's a shame it's out of sight where almost no one ever sees it.....regards


edited typo


    
This message has been edited by leonl on Jul 9, 2008 11:48 PM


 
 


(Login scgaynor)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 9:57 PM 

This is a problem that I have had for years. I have been in the basement of several museums and most look like this. It really is a waste and many times I have explained this to people that are trying to decide between consigning to an auction and donating to a museum.

It really is a waste, that material should be in the hands of collectors who will appreciate it and not gathering dust in the basement. At least a collector will show it off and eventually sell it to somebody else that will appreciate it just as much.

If they can't display it (and never will), why do they need it?

Scott

 
 


(Login jeffshep77)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 10:06 PM 

If you think that bad you should check out the Smithsonian basement...

 
 

(Login Tex34)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 10:07 PM 

The problem with the HOF (and most museums) is that they insist on "telling the story" with exhibits, which is just a high-maintenance time-consuming task so I understand why they can't display it all in that manner.

However, the HOF (and other museums) should consider having a "baseball fanatics" annex, where all that stuff in the basement is just displayed/stored ad hoc in enclosed cases without descriptions. That way people can at least see the treasure, even if the average person has no idea of the significance of half of the stuff they're looking at.


    
This message has been edited by Tex34 on Jul 9, 2008 10:08 PM


 
 


(Login Ghostmarcelle)

What about the basement...

July 9 2008, 10:33 PM 

at the Alamo?

 
 

(Login MSW1)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 10:59 PM 

This is all small potatoes to what's stashed in the catacombs beneath the Vatican.

 
 


(Login DavidMcDonald)

Matt . .

July 9 2008, 11:01 PM 

There's no basement in the Alamo!

 
 

(Login PaulPaulPaul)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 9 2008, 11:40 PM 

I think Jared hit the nail on the head. Museums refuse to just display stuff. At a minimum, they have to carefully label every item so that everyone knows what they are looking at, which is a labor intensive task. And more often, they want to tell a story, as Jared said, which is even more labor intensive.

That's all well and good. If the museum needs to tell a story, great, more power to them. Sometimes (rarely) the story they tell actually adds value to the experience of visiting the museum. But why is the choice between "full story" and "basement"? Can't they just put a glass wall in the front of their basement and let everyone peer through it? They can tell their story upstairs, and let the public look at everything else downstairs.

 
 

boxingcardman
(Login boxingcardman)

Museums, catacombs...

July 10 2008, 1:07 AM 

Amateur hour. Imagine what's buried beneath Giants Stadium in NJ...

Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc

 
 

Jerry
(Login TheBig6)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 10 2008, 1:56 AM 

Alot of ooh's and aah's collecting dust down there.
Sad Really

 
 
Butch & Co.
(Login Butch7999)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 10 2008, 2:05 AM 

As the source of the photo in the original post, and as a personal friend of Joe's, I'll nonetheless have to very respectfully and cordially differ with much of his outlook (and that of several other posters) on this topic... The points raised by Jared and Paul, in their posts above, are a little closer to my own viewpoint.

I'd further add that the stuff in the HOF basement hasn't exactly been buried and paved over, never to be seen again -- one, it's available to any reasonably credible fan/researcher who can articulate both an interest in the material and a request to examine it; two, displays in the Hall rotate and are updated and replenished on an ongoing basis, which sends some things currently on display back to the vaults and brings some material now in the vaults up for public display, and some portion of the vault inventory is usually called upon for temporary exhibits; and three, material in storage is often loaned to other museums for exhibit, as is currently the case with the "Baseball's League of Nations" exhibit at the Iroquois Indian Museum (recently discussed in the Memorabilia forum).

All of that makes it a lot more accessible to the public than it ever would be in the hands of a private collector, and I say that as a collector who loves to show off his stuff (modest as that collection is).

The Hall's "mission," or "agenda," is also somewhat different than that of private collectors, most of whom focus on just one or two categories of collecting anyway. The idea of preserving and protecting the entirety of baseball history, as embodied in its artifacts and memorabilia, is beyond the capabilities of even a Barry Halper. Of course, space and budget constraints put it beyond even the capabilities of the Hall, but, just me maybe, I'm glad there's a major institution devoted to that aim and open to the public. I'm all for supporting smaller (if high-quality) museums, too, but I think we're all aware that the maintenance of special-interest cultural institutions is an expensive, tricky, and perilous business. It wasn't more than a few years ago, for example, that the US Hockey Hall of Fame essentially went out of business for quite a while. What happens to the holdings of a small museum, gallery, or historic site when that sort of thing happens, as it occasionally does? How publicly available are their holdings in such an event, when their doors are locked or their inventories sold off to private collectors?

That said, I do agree, of course, that whatever can be done to make the Hall's holdings (or those of any museum or gallery) more accessible is a Good Thing. The "virtual" museum, as an on-line web project or in some marketable CD format, is a great idea. Of course, that too would be an expensive and labor-intensive undertaking. However, I'd bet the Hall would be open to any credible historian who'd volunteer to document their several million artifacts, and who'd further volunteer to build, host, and maintain the website to display them, or assemble the several million photos on a series of CDs. Anybody want to raise their hand?


    
This message has been edited by Butch7999 on Jul 10, 2008 2:12 AM


 
 

Jason L
(Login smallcapdaddy)
Registered Users

Following on from Jared and Paul^3

July 10 2008, 9:41 AM 

I think there could be great value in simply putting everything on display, perhaps even in a very cluttered & unorganized fashion, such as the shelves in the photo.

Why? because the element of curiosity is heightened. I think if everything was on display, it has more chance of catching someone's eye, and perhaps interest. It would be a fascinating method for stimulating the casual fans' curiosity and interest in subject matter that they had previously zero knowledge of or interest in...how's that for a poorly phrased sentence?

 
 


(Login bijoem)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 10 2008, 9:54 AM 

I think that is Hal Chase's trophy.



 
 
John H.
(Login johnh19)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 10 2008, 10:19 AM 

Sheesh! I thought that was a picture of my basement for a second there.

 
 

Jason L
(Login smallcapdaddy)
Registered Users

Last one over to John's house...

July 10 2008, 10:38 AM 

is a rotten egg!


 
 


(Login E93)

Re: EXCLUSIVE photo from the HOF basement in Cooperstown, where BB collectibles go to die

July 10 2008, 10:55 AM 

Almost every museum has probably 90% of it holdings in storage. It is a shame, but the Hall is not unique. I am sure they would love to display it all if they had the space and resources. I am as guilty as anyone, but rather than complain, why not do something like give a donation or start a letter writing campaign to MLB asking them to support a new wing or something like that?
JimB

 
 
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