Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hall of Fame vs. the museum

The blog author takes a break in a row of
seats from the long-gone Shibe Park/Connie
Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.
The sign over the door says: "The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum." And, indeed, if you pay attention, it's easy to tell the difference.

The Hall of Fame, per se, is just that: A hall. It's a long gallery of plaques — we came up with a count of 240 — of the players, umpires and executives who have been formally enshrined.

This is the place we mean when we talk about whether Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame.

It's also pretty close to the last place visitors are supposed to get to.

Enter the building, and you are quickly herded to the left for admission and off toward the museum. Which, as I explained in an earlier post, is an exhausting proposition. Rewarding, to be sure, but exhausting.

On one of our tours of the museum, we encountered a man (wearing a Philadelphia Phillies cap) who was surprised to find Pete Rose memorabilia in the exhibits about the Big Red Machine dynasty of the mid '70s and again in the display about the Phillies of slightly later vintage. "I didn't think they let anything about him in here," he said.

That illustrates, I think, the difference between the Hall of Fame and the museum. Rose's gambling transgressions have barred him from the Hall of Fame. They haven't kept him out of the museum. One cannot tell the story of baseball in the 1970s and '80s (and part of the '60s) without Rose, and he is well represented in the museum.

It's two different functions under one roof. (The research library, which is of more limited mass interest than the plaque room and the museum, is a third function.) We tend to get the two functions jumbled up, which is how the Phillies fan wound up surprised to see any acknowledgment of Pete Rose,


  1. I believe Jack Morris should be in the HOF. Maybe he is missing some parts of usual credentials but he was a big horse and finished games other SP pitchers may not have finished. I think he is more than worthy.

    I also think it is unjust for Tony Olivia not to be there. I have never accepted that his career was too short.

    Neither would be the weakest member enshrined! The reasons given for not voting for these two players are rather nit picky in my opinion.

    To a lesser degree, I believe Jim Last would not be the weakest member either.

  2. That should be Jim Kaat. (Predictive text problem).