Groundbreaking New Exhibit One for the Books Explores Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them

Hall of Fame Unveils Interactive Examination of Iconic Records and the Players Who Brought the Numbers to Life

May 28, 2011
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken joined Joe Morgan and Phil Niekro to open the Hall of Fame's newest exhibit One for the Books. (Milo Stewart Jr./Baseball Hall of Fame)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – The players set the standards. The numbers became iconic. The stories are now legend.

But it's the records that enthrall baseball fans the world over – from Cy Young's victories to Joe DiMaggio's hits to Cal Ripken's consistent appearance in the box score. Those records, once engrained into the culture, remain forever a part of the National Pastime.

The records – and the stories forever connected to them – now have a permanent home in Cooperstown.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum presents One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them, a landmark exhibit which opened on Saturday in Cooperstown. A permanent addition to the Museum's third-floor presentation, One for the Books tells the story baseball's most cherished records through more than 200 artifacts in the most technologically advanced presentation in the Museum's 72-year history.

Presented by Legendary Entertainment and its founder, Thomas Tull, One for the Books explores the game's sacred records while providing context for the contrast of records throughout the history of baseball.

"This masterful exhibit, created and designed by our talented staff, delves into the history and individual stories behind baseball's most celebrated marks," said Jeff Idelson, President, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "For fans who love to compare and contrast numbers, records and record holders, this exhibit is mesmerizing. This exhibit will help fans understand how the foundations of success have been defined over centuries."

One for the Books goes beyond the basic facts of who, what, when and where, examining the how and why of records. The exhibit explores often-overlooked metrics such as ballpark factors and rule variations, as well as how new research has altered past numbers. Generated by Baseball-Reference.com, the statistics in One for the Books allow fans to see the ever-changing numbers that have kept fans spellbound for hundreds of years.

Averages and totals that once appeared as simple facts are shown as ever-changing symbols in One for the Books. But the records within the exhibit have demonstrated a living quality that has proven to be timeless.

Legendary Entertainment's support capped off a wide-spread capital campaign to help offset the $1.25 million exhibit cost, which encouraged supporters to recognize their favorite record through donations at www.baseballhall.org. More than 900 donors, comprised of fans, Museum members, foundations, Hall of Famers, team owners and the greater baseball community, helped to make the exhibit possible through financial support, pledging as little as $10.

"We think it is very important that the Baseball Hall of Fame continues to be a beacon for all sports in what it represents," said Tull, who graduated from nearby Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. – located about 45 miles northeast of Cooperstown. "I am an absolutely passionate baseball fan, and I believe that baseball is part of our cultural fabric. Baseball is such a focused an accurate scorekeeper of records. The moments of the game are astounding, and we just wanted to be supportive in any way that we could."

The exhibit features longtime Museum favorites like Joe DiMaggio's locker, as well as unique gems like the 1914 George Moreland book Balldom, one of the earliest baseball record books. A sample of the more than 200 artifacts in the exhibit includes:

  • 1910 Honey Boy Evans trophy presented to Ty Cobb for having the best batting average in the big leagues that year; Cobb's lifetime .366 batting average is the top mark in the game's history.
  • 1939 Lou Gehrig jersey worn by the Iron Horse in his final big league season; Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played, broken by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995, remains one of the legendary accomplishments in the annals of the National Pastime.
  • 1962 shoes from Maury Wills, who set a modern record – since broken – of 104 stolen bases that year; Wills played 165 games that season (all 162 scheduled games and three in the National League playoff against the Giants), setting a mark that still stands.
  • 1984 Montreal Expos cap from Pete Rose, who wore the cap on June 29, 1984, when he set a record by appearing in his 3,309th big league game.
  • 2002 bat from Shawn Green, who used the lumber to total 19 bases in one game (a single, a double and four home runs) to set a big league record on May 23, 2002

One for the Books examines records in batting, pitching, baserunning, fielding, team records, and a seventh category that will hold records like tallest, shortest, oldest, youngest, most seasons played and records held by umpires. Although the exhibit focuses on records from Major League Baseball, it also explores records from Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, the Negro leagues, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, the minor leagues and youth baseball.

The exhibit allows fans to search records dating back through baseball history via an interactive Top Ten Tower while giving visitors a look at exciting moments throughout the years via a multimedia wall. Admission to One for the Books, located on the Museum's third floor adjacent to Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, is included with a Museum ticket.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an independent not-for-profit educational institution, dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime.

The Museum's collections contain more than 38,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing all facets of the game, from its inception in the mid-19th century to present. Three-dimensional artifacts include bats, baseballs, uniforms, player equipment, ballpark artifacts, awards, artwork, textiles, tickets, collectibles and assorted memorabilia. In addition, the Institution's archives contain in excess of 135,000 Baseball cards and three million Library items, including photographs, books, magazines, newspaper clippings, films, video and audio tapes.

Located on Main Street in the heart of picturesque Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the country's major tourist destinations and is surely the best-known sports shrine in the world. Opening its doors for the first time on June 12, 1939, the Hall of Fame has stood as the definitive repository of the game's treasures and as a symbol of the most profound individual honor bestowed on an athlete. It is every fan's "Field of Dreams," with its stories, legends and magic to be passed on from generation to generation.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The Museum observes regular hours of 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Labor Day until Memorial Day Weekend. From Memorial Day through the day before Labor Day, the Museum is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week. Ticket prices are $19.50 for adults (13 and over), $12 for seniors (65 and over) and for those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and AMVets organizations, and $7 for juniors (ages 7-12). Members are always admitted free of charge and there is no charge for children 6 years of age or younger. For more information, visit our Web site at baseballhall.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633) or 607-547-7200.