Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Baseball Museum 8: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
We went to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame back on June 26, 2009, on our way to the campground in the Toronto area. Well, it was not exactly on the way, as the distance from it to the campground was about the same as the distance from Niagara Falls to the campground and it took three hours to get there from Niagara Falls. Anyways it was a very worthwhile detour and the only baseball thing that was enjoyable in Canada. In fact it was an even better overall experience, although there was not as many things to look at, than the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is really small. The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame at Great American Ballpark is actually at least twice as big as the Canadian one and that one is just about one team. It is about the same size as the part of the San Diego Hall of Champions devoted to baseball, but that is just for one city and not one country. It is not that the museum does not have enough stuff to make a bigger museum, as they way they are they have quite a lot crowded on display, but just that baseball is not that big of a thing in Canada and they do not have the resources to have a larger exhibit space.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is located inside a house tucked back in a mostly residential area of the small town of St. Mary’s in Ontario, Canada. The house is adapted to have a ramp up to it, so it is just as accessible as a regular museum building. It is a little cramped inside, but only because they have so much they want to display at one time (by the way they try to rotate what is on display regularly) and have such limited space. It may be to the point of almost cluttered, but there was still adequate space for Mik to go through it. Also, the bathroom is very accessible, as it is the original one from when it was just a residential house with the tub removed. For such a small museum it is amazingly accessible and part of why it was so disappointing to see the lack of consideration for wheelchair in the Rogers Centre accessible seating rows.
There are only two rooms in the museum, but there is plenty of interesting things to discover. One of the things that caught Mik’s attention was an old pitching machine, which had an interesting sign about how a similar one was actually used as the pitcher in a college baseball game once. Other things included some Babe Ruth memorabilia and info on his connection to Canada, such as hitting his first professional home run in Toronto. There was also some Jackie Robinson things, as he played for the Montreal Royals Minor League team before debuting in the Majors.
Induction Weekend was the weekend before we visited, so they had some exhibits on this year’s inductees, such as Ernie Whitt and Larry Walker. They also had some other recent memorabilia, such as things from the Canadian team playing in the Beijing 2008 Olympics and the ’09 World Baseball Classic.
Overall the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame was a lot of fun to visit. There was a good amount of items to see and it was interesting to the Canadian connection to MLB, which has increasingly become almost exclusively in the United States, but used to have more of its teams (i.e. Montreal Expos) and Minor League teams in Canada. Also, the one employee there was very knowledgeable not only about the things in the museum, but also Canadian baseball history and general baseball history as well. It was so nice after visiting places like the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site that had people that barely knew the script for showing the site to have a person that knew a lot about the place and also had passion about it. By the way I was impressed from the start when I noticed a little sign about the history of the house the museum is located in.