The Museum's Endowment

The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors June 12, 1939. Over eight decades, the Museum has grown from a 1,500 square-foot single gallery of exhibits and plaques to a 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art history museum. More than 17 million visitors have made the pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame to pay tribute to the game's illustrious history. It is in Cooperstown where fans of all ages learn so much about the inextricable bond that baseball has had with American culture for more than two centuries. Two cultural historians, one American and one French, eloquently shared their feelings about baseball:

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn Baseball.

Jacques Barzun, French-born sociologist

There are three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now: the Constitution, jazz music, and Baseball. They’re the three most beautifully designed things this culture’s ever produced.

Dr. Gerald Early, Washington University

Three larger-than-life statues of Hall of Fame Members Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, located in the Museum’s foyer, represent character and courage in baseball and in life. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)



This simple vision guides the Board of Directors and staff every day. As an independent nonprofit educational institution, the Hall of Fame strives to deepen everyone’s understanding of baseball wherever it’s played – from Little League to the Major Leagues – and its significant role in American culture. A greater understanding leads to a greater love and appreciation. With great love comes a greater chance that baseball – intertwined with America’s history and roots – will not only endure, but flourish.


More than three quarters of a century ago, Stephen C. Clark’s vision and commitment built the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It was an innovative idea – the world’s first Hall of Fame and Museum dedicated to a sport and its place in a country’s history. A Cooperstown resident and philanthropist, Mr. Clark was the principal financier of the Museum’s construction, and served as its first President. Under his leadership, the Hall of Fame quickly earned a reputation for quality – and set an enduring standard to which all other sports history museums aspire. Today, Jane Forbes Clark, granddaughter of the founder, serves as Chairman of the Board. A passionate and dynamic leader committed to excellence, she is absolutely dedicated to the mission of the Hall. She is also committed to increasing its reach and impact through new programs and innovative applications of technology. With her vision, the Hall will maintain its prominent stature while serving as an even brighter beacon for America’s Game.

Stephen C. Clark (with shovel) at the groundbreaking for the Museum expansion (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)


“The Smithsonian and Library of Congress” for Baseball

From the day its doors opened in 1939 with a first class of honorees that included Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson, to the 2020 election of Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker, the Hall of Fame has always been the ultimate sports history shrine. Over more than three-quarters of a century, the Hall of Fame has evolved from a single gallery into a world-class museum and a state-of-the-art research center. The collection and archive includes: • 40,000 artifacts including bats, balls, gloves, uniforms, trophies and more • 200,000 baseball cards • 16,000 hours of recorded media • 300,000 historic photos • 3 million pieces in Library collection


• Ensure that the collection is preserved for future generations. • Continue to build world-class exhibits, both in the Museum and online. • Take advantage of state-of-the-art technology to increase access to our priceless collections. • Extend the reach and impact of our Education Program. • Present compelling educational programs for fans of all ages. • Reach larger audiences through technology, educating them about baseball and its impact on American culture.

One of my first thoughts of being told of my election into the Hall of Fame was the natural awe of being recognized alongside Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, and Jackie Robinson. But the Hall of Fame is more. It’s all the kids who ever played the game. It’s all the fans who ever bought a ticket. It’s the first time you took your son or daughter to a ball game. It’s Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente. It’s the Say Hey Kid, it’s the Duke, the Hammer, Cool Papa, the Mick, Big Train, Pee Wee, Joe D., Teddy Ballgame and many more.

Rod Carew, Hall of Fame Induction Speech, 1991


Since opening its doors in 1939, the Hall has been well-managed and has operated on a break-even basis. Unlike other institutions of its stature, however, it has operated without the security of a significant endowment. A robust endowment will preserve and build upon the foundation set by those who built this American treasure. In 2014, the Hall of Fame launched the Campaign to build its Endowment from $6.9 million to $30 million, we reached that goal in 2020 and are continuing to build on this success to ensure a bright future for the Hall of Fame. A significant endowment will allow the Museum to keep pace with advancements in exhibition and conservation technology, assuring its priceless collections are always well-preserved; provide for growth in historical research and youth programs; and protect the Hall of Fame from economic downturns. 


To make a gift to the Museum's Endowment or to learn more contact: Ken Meifert Vice President, Sponsorship and Development 607.547.0286