By Greg Klein
---- — Staff members at the Baseball Hall of Fame have written books-worth of material on baseball history and the Hall of Fame inductees. Now they have written a book about the Hall itself.
“Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame” was released on Tuesday by Simon & Schuster. The book is 224 pages and features a forward by 1983 inductee Brooks Robinson and photos by BBHOF photographer Milo Stewart.
According to Brad Horn, senior director of communications and education at the Hall, the book was released to coincide with opening day.
“We wanted to bring to life the stories from behind the scenes and share the vast amount of collections in the Hall of Fame, not just what is on display, but what is in the archives,” Horn said.
There are 200 artifacts featured in the book, with photos and captions written by staff members. Many of the artifacts are not on display, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at seldom-seen baseball treasures.
Among the artifacts featured are Shoeless Joe Jackson’s shoes, the Wonderboy bat and trombone case that Robert Redford used in “The Natural,” Rube Waddell’s glove from his 4–2, 20-inning victory over Cy Young on July 4, 1905, and a promissory note from the sale of Babe Ruth by Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert.
Horn said he doesn’t have a personal favorite in the collection, but points to pages 157-158 as a good example of the quality and diversity of the collection. On one page is photos and descriptions about the jersey David Freese wore in game six of the 2011 World Series. The jersey was shredded by Freese’s teammates, who mobbed him after his walk-off home run. On the other page is a photo and write-up on the trophy from the 1900 baseball championship – it wasn’t called the World Series until 1903 – between the Brooklyn Superbas and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Asking me to pick one artifact is sort of like asking me to say which one of my children is my favorite,” Horn said. “But I like the juxtaposition of the David Freese jersey with the 1900 championship trophy. It is a great example of modern baseball history featured alongside its historical predecessors.”
The book does not have a single author, but was a group project with extensive contributions from director of research Tim Wiles, reference librarian Freddy Berowski, curator Erik Strohl, Stewart and others.
“It is a great reflection of the many talents of our staff, from the photographs to the written descriptions to pulling out little-known artifacts or anecdotes to share with anyone who wants to know more about the Hall,” Horn said. “Hopefully it will whet the appetite of anyone who is planning a trip to Cooperstown. In addition, it makes a great gift.”
Robinson, a retired third baseman from the Baltimore Orioles, who is also a member of the Hall’s board of directors, was chosen to write the forward because of his longtime affiliation with the Hall and his ability to communicate the HOF story, Horn said.
“He is one of the game’s iconic figures, and he has had a connection to Cooperstown throughout his career,” he said. “At the same time, because he has a dual role in that he is a Hall of Famer and also a caretaker for the Hall, he can provide people a unique perspective into the behind-the-scenes activities.”
The book costs $35 and is available at the Hall of Fame gift shop as well as at all online and retail booksellers.