History on Main Street: Museum Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Cal Ripken Help Commemorate Three-Quarters of a Century of Excellence in Cooperstown

June 12, 2014
Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark (center) cuts the Museum’s birthday cake along with Hall of Famers Cal Ripken (left) and Phil Niekro.

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) Babe Ruth stepped to the microphone on June 12, 1939 in Cooperstown and made a birthday wish on the very day the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was born. 

“I hope…the next hundred years will be the greatest,” said the Babe while standing on the Museum steps on Main Street. 

Three-quarters of the way to his prediction, the Hall of Fame celebrated its 75th Anniversary in style on Thursday in the historic Plaque Gallery. 

“This Museum began as a one-room Gallery of plaques and mementos,” said Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark. “It is now a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square foot internationally renowned history museum. “Seventy-five years after that day in June of 1939, I stand in an institution that has grown to an iconic site that has made an indelible mark on this region and on all of baseball.”

Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Cal Ripken were the honored guests on Thursday as the Museum commemorated the anniversary of the celebration on June 12, 1939 when the first four classes of Hall of Famers were enshrined and the Museum officially opened to the public.

Museum visitors packed the Plaque Gallery on Thursday to catch a glimpse of history, sing “Happy Birthday!” to the Museum and enjoy the Hall of Fame’s 75th Anniversary birthday cake.

“This is like our second home,” Niekro said. “I feel like I'm surrounded by family. This is the magical village of the USA.”

Thursday also featured a roundtable filled with memories as local residents Homer Osterhoudt, Howard Talbot and Catherine Walker – who were all present 75 years ago when the Museum opened – reminisced about that historic day with Museum visitors in the Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater.

“The coolness of this group comes in being with the group,” Ripken said of his Hall of Fame brethren. “Just looking out over Otsego Lake and realizing what you’ve accomplished is the coolest thing in the world.”

The anniversary celebration will continue into Friday highlighted by the opening of the Museum’s new exhibit Babe Ruth: His Life and Legend, a tribute to one of the game’s most colorful figures and his lasting impact on the National Pastime. The schedule of public events at the Museum for the June 13 includes:

Friday, June 13

All Day Babe Ruth: His Life and Legend opens after 11 a.m. on the Museum’s second floor (included with Museum admission)

All DayGoogle Cultural Institute Photo Booth located on the Museum’s lobby, where Museum visitors can have a photo taken in front of a virtual background featuring an image of Class of 2014 members Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre. Image can be uploaded to the user’s Google platforms (included with Museum admission)

12 p.m.Babe Ruth Roundtable Discussion featuring Mike Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Museum; author Jane Leavy; and John Thorn, official MLB Historian (included with Museum admission)

1 p.m. – Marty Appel, historian and author of “Pinstripe Empire,” will present a program on Babe Ruth’s legacy and sign copies of his book (included with Museum admission)

5 p.m.Voices of the Game program featuring Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Cal Ripken in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater. Limited number of tickets are available to Museum members exclusively for $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and are available by calling 607-547-0397.

The Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 13 and throughout Father’s Day Weekend.