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The Times
  • Shawn Vargo: Finally made a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame

  • If you are a baseball fan and haven’t found the time in your busy schedule to travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame, don’t be like me. Get up there as soon as you’re able. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • I have always been a fan of baseball.
    I can recall playing with the neighborhood kids in a vacant lot across the street. I can recall my first really good catch with an almost toy glove that my brother Richard probably still has in his possession.
    I can recall hitting a golf ball against the side of the house with my new Don Money (look him up) 29-inch wooden $6 baseball bat –– until that stupid bedroom window got in the way.
    I can recall endless afternoons at McKinney Park playing ‘right field is foul’ games, where fielders had to get the ball back to the pitcher’s mound before the runner reached first base because we were playing three on three. Oh yeah, I remember what ghost runners are.
    My dad, George, would make sure I had a copy of the New York Yankees yearbook as soon as it came out. He also made sure I had an unlimited supply of bubble gum, thanks to the many packs of 1972 and 1973 Topps baseball cards he purchased at Conzo’s on pay day.
    I can recall playing Little League baseball for Gates Rockwell (minors), the Eaton Post Expos (majors) and Agway (Babe Ruth). I still get a kick out of seeing my old Expos coach Bob L’Amoreaux at softball games as he watches his granddaughters play.
    So what’s with the trip down memory lane, you ask?
    Well, despite my life-long passion for the game of baseball, there’s something that I had not done in my 45 years: visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    So with the wife and children in tow, the Vargos made the 150-plus-mile trip on a chilly, rainy April 11 day and reached Cooperstown at roughly 11 a.m.
    Upon our arrival, my first impression was that the Cooperstown area was very scenic and could have been a valid destination, even without the museum. My wife noted the beauty of the drive and appeared eager to see it in the summertime, as well as the fall. The foot is officially in the door for additional trips, now. Two thumbs up.
    Thanks to my tremendous parallel parking abilities, I was able to find a spot within a block of the museum. Because the hall’s official website said the two-hour free parking was strictly enforced, I set the alarm clock feature on my phone for 1:45. We were not even halfway through the second of three floors when it went off the first time.
    With a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old –– who don’t quite share daddy’s passion for the game … yet –– I was very happy when museum staff gave them a scavenger hunt list to help them stay involved. Anyone who knows my daughter, Erin, knows how competitive she can be. She treated the scavenger hunt with true zeal.
    Page 2 of 2 - My wife and son took refuge in the Museum’s Sandlot area, which allowed my daughter and me to seek out more items from the list. Before the next alarm could sound, we had completed our time on the third floor and were on our way to the bookstore and gift shop.
    Bellies needed to be filled, so as a group, we decided for a short lap down the main street to check out a couple of shops before working our way back to the car.
    A trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s was a reward for the good behavior of the children, although the din from the wall-to-wall rug rats at the overpriced playground grated on my nerves like nails on a chalk board –– I survived.
    I rebounded the following morning by taking a closer look at the photos I took in Cooperstown, cementing those memories with the baseball memories of my youth.
    It may have been 30-35 years over due, but I am very pleased to have completed my first pilgrimage to Cooperstown. Without boring you with specifics of what I saw, it was a truly magnificent day. I’m confident it won’t be my last trip.
    If you are a baseball fan and haven’t found the time in your busy schedule to travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame, don’t be like me. Get up there as soon as you’re able. You won’t be disappointed.
    Shawn Vargo is the sports editor and can be reached at svargo@the-leader.com.
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