The Campaign to Preserve Our National Pastime

The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors June 12, 1939. Over 75 years, 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, to welcome the more than 16 million visitors who have made the pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame to pay tribute to the game's illustrious history. It is in Cooperstown where they 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, the 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)

The Legacy

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Three quarters of a century ago, Stephen C. Clark’s vision and commitment built the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 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 Museum and Library

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“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 2017 election of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz and Allan H. “Bud” Selig, 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
• 135,000 baseball cards
• 14,000 hours of recorded media
• 250,000 historic photos
• 3 million pieces in Library collection

Opportunities and Goals

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• 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

Building an Endowment

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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.

The Campaign to Preserve Our National Pastime has 100% participation from the Museum’s Board of Directors and a generous gift of $10 million from Major League Baseball, on behalf of its 30 teams. The Museum has now raised nearly $27 million toward its $30 million goal.

This 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 preserve and build upon the vision set by those who built this American treasure.


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To make a gift of $50,000 or more to The Campaign to Preserve Our National Pastime or to learn more contact:

Ken Meifert
Vice President, Sponsorship and Development
[email protected]