National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coopertown, New York

What Happened To BaseballHallOfFame.org?

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is the history museum serving as the focal point of the United States baseball history. Players are inducted into the Hall of Fame through selection by the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee or the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. BaseballHallOfFame.org was the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s official website.

If you try to find BaseballHallOfFame.org today, you’ll soon realize that the site is offline, and it has been for some time. To find out what happened to the website, we follow the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s history, its selection process, and notable events in the organization’s past.

The History Of Baseball Hall Of Fame And Museum

An attempt to follow the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will soon take you to the controversy over where baseball started.

Abner Graves, a man described by one writer as “a ne’er-do-well [an idle, worthless person] who liked seeing his name in the paper,” claimed that he was there when the American Civil War general Abner Doubleday invented the sport. This claim, popularly referred to as the Doubleday myth, led Stephen Carlton Clark, the heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, to build the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

The assertion that Doubleday invented baseball did not go unchallenged. For instance, the baseball writer Henry Chadwick argued that baseball was an offshoot of the English game rounders.

The controversy related to the origins of baseball became so serious that a commission was instituted in 1905 to investigate the real origins of the sport. It was called the Mills Commission.

At the end of its work in 1907, the Mills Commission concluded that “the first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence obtainable to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1839.”

No Speedy Resolution

If whoever instituted the Mills Commission was hoping for a speedy resolution to the debate over the origins of baseball, they should have been disappointed when dissenting voices refused to accept the commission’s findings.

Those who doubted the commission’s finding indicated that some of the innovations attributed to Doubleday were already practiced way before he supposedly invented them.              

Establishing The Hall Of Fame And Museum

Notwithstanding the controversy related to the origins of baseball, BaseballHallOfFame.org reports that on June 12, 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum officially opened its doors to the public in Cooperstown. The organization says that the selection of Cooperstown represented “a step back in time, with buildings dating to the early 19th century and orange geraniums hanging from classically-styled streetlights.” Adding, “More than 350,000 people travel to the Village each year to pay tribute to our National Pastime by visiting the Hall of Fame, an institution which honors excellence, preserves history, and connects generations.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum would go on to house “the world’s largest collection of baseball artifacts, including more than 38,000 three dimensional artifacts, 3,000,000 documents, 500,000 photographs, and 12,000 hours of recorded media.”

Inducting Players Into The Hall Of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame has a stringent selection process. The rules for the selection of players into the Hall of Fame have evolved over the years. For instance, starting from 1971, players in what was then known as the Negro Leagues started being considered.

Satchel Paige, an African American who started in the Negro Leagues, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971. Paige was a legendary baseball player described by Thomas Boswell in an article published by the Washington Post as having “left a legend so large that no page of statistics could significantly alter his mark.” Paige started playing in the major leagues at age 42. He played his last game in the major league at 59, setting the “Oldest Age While Playing” record that has not been broken until this day.   

Regarding the way players are elected into the Hall of Fame today, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) reports that an election is typically held yearly, where “members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players” are elected.  

Those who participate in the selection process have to be members of the BBWAA for at least ten years. The BBWAA also stipulates that such members “must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting.”

For players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, they also have to meet stringent criteria, including having played in all the ten Major League championship seasons and “must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.”

The Unauthorized Sale Of Historic Items 

In 1982, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum found itself engulfed in controversy over the unauthorized sale of historic items lent to the organization. What made matters worse is that the items had been sold by an employee of the organization who used the obtained funds to sort out his own financial challenges. This would lead to reputational damage that made it a challenge for the organization to attract donations.

Establishing BaseballHallOfFame.org

The website BaseBallHallOfFame.org was launched in 1998. The first archived pages of the website were captured on January 22, 1998. At that time, the site was quite simple, providing links to various pages, including one that explained why the Hall of Fame was constructed in Cooperstown.

BaseBallHallOfFame.org also had links to various other pages, including the Donor Information, News & Events, Members Gallery, Exhibits & Features, Hall of Fame Library, Museum Shop, and Education Program.   

The Hall Of Fame Today

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Paul Dickson explains what the Hall of Fame complex looks like today. He writes, “The Hall of Fame complex comprises the hall itself, a museum and the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center, which includes a library, an archive, and a vast photo collection.” 

What Then Happened To BaseballHallOfFame.org?

After its launch in 1998, BaseballHallOfFame.org continued to be active until 2010. The Hall of Fame then launched a shorter version of the site to which it redirected visitors until 2014 when the redirect was removed.

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