Corinne Hillman teaches students about baseball through a lifetime of experiences
As a child growing up in New York City in the first half of the 20th Century, Corinne Hillman was surrounded by baseball. Yet even with her pick of three New York teams to root for, her passion for the sport did not come until later in life when her husband introduced her to the joy of the game.
Today, Hillman's passion for the game provides a link to the past for local students who visit the Hall of Fame.
As a member of the Hall of Fame's education team, Hillman leads visiting students around the Museum – filling their minds with stories about Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Each of the more than 5,000 students who annually visit the Hall of Fame as part of the Museum’s field trip program receives a guided tour of the Museum led by an educator, and participates in a hands-on program designed to bring American history to life. While each Museum educator is well qualified to teach students about the past, students who are lucky enough to be assigned to a Hillman tour experience a truly unique adventure.
Born Jan. 1, 1921, Hillman is able to offer a first-hand account of what it was like to live through many of the historical events that are discussed on the Museum’s tour. Her personal knowledge of events that most adults have only read about in history books makes Hillman a primary resource herself, just as valuable to the institution as any of the three million documents found in the Giamatti Research Center.
Hillman began her career as an educator while her children were still young. As a full-time mom she went to school nights and weekends to complete her teaching certificate. When she moved to Cooperstown in 1989, she immediately became fascinated with the Hall of Fame, but had no idea that she would soon have the opportunity to combine her passions of baseball and teaching in such a unique and exciting way.
As we focus on women’s history this month, the Hall of Fame will seek to educate students about the great women in baseball history. As always the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is a fan favorite as these women have come to represent the triumphs and tragedies of women on the home front during World War II. To hear this story from Hillman – a woman who sent her own husband off to fight for the country only to have him return wounded – adds an entirely new level of historical understanding for students. The women of the AAGPBL represented triumph to those serving at home during the war, and have emerged again in recent years as a powerful symbol for what women and girls can do, individually and collectively, if given an opportunity to play team sports like baseball.
At the young age of 91, Hillman hopes to continue teaching at the Baseball Hall of Fame for many years to come. Her knowledge of baseball and American history make her a unique treasure for the Museum and helps to ensure that a new generation of young students will appreciate the game and its role as America’s National Pastime.
Julie Wilson is the manager of school programs for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum