The National Baseball Hall of Fame is offering special programing honoring veterans of the armed services for the month of November.
Beginning on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the Hall of Fame announced it will be offering free admission to all veterans until Nov. 30, with a US Department of Defense Form 214, US Department of Veterans Affairs ID Card or a New York State driver's license with a Veterans mark.
The Hall of Fame ordinarily gives 20-year and active military servicemen and women free admission to the Hall every day that it's open, and discounted admission to all other veterans.
“The Hall of Fame really honors military veterans everyday in our museum. In our plaque gallery we have medallions resting below each of the packs among our 68 Hall of Famers who have interrupted baseball careers due to military service,” Vice President of Communications and Education Jon Shestakofsky said.
“When it comes to honoring veterans it's something that we take very seriously and means a lot to us.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall of Fame has restrictions limiting gathering sizes, preventing some of their usual programs. On Veterans Day, in-person tours were replaced with self-guided tours, and all veterans entering the museum were given a two-sided handout describing and pointing out artifacts relating to veterans throughout the museum. The artifacts highlight and tell stories of baseball heroes who sacrificed their baseball careers to serve in the military.
The Hall of Fame also had to forgo its traditional Veterans Day flag giveaway and letter writing to soldiers/veterans via Operation Gratitude.
“In terms of in-museum programming, it's [Veterans Day] been a staple of our annual programming slates for a long time,” said Shestakofsky.
The Hall of Fame has also instituted a series of virtual programs held via Zoom and Facebook, geared towards the celebration of Veterans. Tuesday, former major leaguer Chuck Goggin, a decorated Vietnam veteran who earned both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and made his major league debut after his time in the US Marines was featured in the Hall of Fame's 'Virtual Voices of the Game' series.
“We're doing what we can to honor the servicemen and veterans who have sacrificed so much, and to honor the history of baseballs roll in service to our country. Given that we can't do what we normally do within the museum, we're trying to create and further that experience using other means,” said Shestakofsky.
During a normal year, the Hall of Fame sees a spike in veterans vising the museum taking advantage of their veteran-specific programing. The pandemic, however, has disrupted foot traffic this year.
For those visiting the Hall of Fame online or in-person away from Veterans Day, the museum has several ongoing tributes to veterans.
On the museum's website is an exhibit called 'Baseball Enlists,' which focuses on the sacrifices and contributions of baseball during World War II.
Daily, the Hall of Fame, “honor[s] the 68 individuals who are members of the Hall of Fame and had their baseball careers interrupted in order to protect our country during a time of conflict. Those individuals are recognized throughout the museum every single day, and were very proud of the program that’s in place that places medallions along with their plaques in the plaque gallery,” Shestakofsky said.