For anyone who’s ever spun a dial or rolled dice, one of the world’s best baseball board game collections is a sight to see. And thousands will see it this summer.
A collection of baseball board games, soon to be featured in a temporary exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., will show that the passion for the national pastime has deep origins and strong roots as a leisure-time activity in American culture. The exhibit will feature more than 50 baseball board games produced over a 100-year period from 1860-1960.
Home Games: A Century of Baseball Games from the Collection of Dr. Mark Cooper, will open on Saturday, April 12, and will run through 2008. The exhibit will be located in the Halper Gallery and will feature a collection of games from the private collection of Dr. Cooper, a Philadelphia-area resident and long-time baseball fan.
Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. Cooper enjoyed countless hours playing baseball board games. With the roll of the dice or the flick of a spinner, Dr. Cooper brought to life a wealth of players and plays in the field of his imagination. Decades later, he recaptured those times by tracking down the games of his youth. In doing so, he discovered a passion for other home baseball games.
The games exhibit features 17 cases highlighted by games from Dr. Cooper’s collection, exploring such types of baseball games as small baseball games, the role of player endorsement in games, games reflecting innovation, games from other countries, patriotic representations of baseball, the rise of statistic-based games and much more.
Among the games featured in the exhibit: The New Parlor Game of Base Ball from 1869, the oldest existing game, dating back to the first year of professional baseball; League Parlor Base Ball of 1884, the first baseball game to use dice; The Professional Game of Base Ball of 1890, the first baseball game produced by Parker Brothers; and The Champion Game of Base Ball from 1889, featuring the likenesses of Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers and John Clarkson.
Other intriguing pieces in the collection include: Zimmer’s Base Ball Game of 1893, considered the "Mona Lisa" of baseball games for its natural beauty and rarity; Major League Indoor Base Ball of 1912, a spinner game used in the 1917 film "One Touch of Nature;" National Pastime of 1930, the first baseball game to use actual player statistics, well in advance of the simulation baseball craze that started in the 1950s; and Diceball, circa 1938, perhaps the smallest baseball game ever produced.
Home Games will be featured throughout the 2008 season and is included in admission to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Open seven days a week the year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the Hall of Fame is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. until Memorial Day Weekend. Summer hours are from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.