There is no sign in the Hall of Fame Gallery to tell visitors what they are seeing or how they should respond. Nor is there a need for one. The bronze plaques on the oak-paneled walls say everything because this room on the first floor is baseball's highest peak.
Engraved likenesses of the greatest players, managers, umpires and executives give the honorees dignified stature and an immortal aura. No rule requires fans to walk through the gallery quietly, but they do it anyway, almost automatically. Respect radiates from every inch.
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Joe DiMaggio is here. So are Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken are fixtures in the gallery, as they were on the field.
Players from the 1800s and 2000s are represented. Anyone who has ever thrown or hit a ball has wanted to end up here, as did Cy Young and Tom Seaver; Ted Williams and George Brett; Bob Gibson and Josh Gibson and the Robinsons, Jackie, Brooks and Frank.
Plaques are arranged chronologically, based on when each person was inducted. The exceptions are in a special spot on the far wall, reserved for the first inductees -- Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson -- and those who will be enshrined this year.
Just knowing that the gallery exists has been an inspiration for 75 years. Fans honor players who are in, and debate about others who should be. The gallery is the heart of the Hall and the soul of the sport. As for where it ranks among the 101 Top Things about Cooperstown, the gallery is the best of the best -- just like the people who are honored in it.
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1. The iconic photo of 10 of the 11 living members of the first four Hall of Fame classes who gathered for Cooperstown's first induction ceremony in 1939. Back row (from left): Honus Wagner, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tris Speaker, Napoleon Lajoie, George Sisler, Walter Johnson. Front row: Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Cy Young. Ty Cobb was late for the photo. Wagner, Johnson, Ruth, Cobb and Christy Mathewson were the Hall's first inductees in 1936.
2. Louisville Slugger bat with which Babe Ruth hit the "Called Shot'' in 1932 World Series.
3. Silver bat awarded to Carl Yastrzemski for his Triple Crown, 1967.
4. Babe Ruth's Flannel gray road uniform (with collar) from 1920, the year he became the first to hit 30 homers in a season . . . and 40, and 50.
5. Babe Ruth's final home run ball, May 25, 1935.
6. Stan Musial's locker from Sportsman's Park, St. Louis, with No. 6 jersey and lineup card from his final game, Sept. 29, 1963.
7. The cap Mariano Rivera wore when he was MVP of the 2013 All-Star Game.
8. The ball and the bat from Roger Maris's 61st home run in 1961.
9. Spikes, with "2'' on the back of each, worn by Derek Jeter in 1998 World Series vs. Padres.
10. Glove and uniform of Lou Gehrig, and trophy presented by his teammates on July 4, 1939, the day of his "luckiest man'' speech.
11. Bracelet made from Lou Gehrig's championship rings, presented to his wife, Eleanor, on their fourth anniversary (worn in the movie "Pride of the Yankees'' by Teresa Wright as she played Eleanor).
12. Yogi Berra's catcher's mitt from Don Larsen's perfect game (displayed separately from Larsen's hat).
13. George Brett's bat from the Pine Tar Game, July 24, 1983.
14. Sliding pads Ty Cobb wore beneath his uniform pants.
15. The bat Aaron Boone used for his ALCS-ending home run vs. Red Sox in 2003.
16. 2009 World Series cap of Andy Pettitte, first to pitch three postseason clinchers in one year.
17. Homemade ball found in 1935 in a farm- house near Cooperstown, thought to belong to one of the kids Abner Doubleday taught the game to.
18. Glove Tom Seaver used in his 19-strikeout game vs. Padres on April 23, 1970 -- the day he received his 1969 Cy Young Award.
19. Pedro Martinez's jersey No. 45 from Sept. 3, 2007, when he got his 3,000th strikeout.
20. Gary Carter's helmet from Game 6 of 1986 World Series, when his two-out single began 10th-inning rally.
21. Half of home plate, rescued by a fan amid mayhem on Shea Stadium field after Game 5 of the 1969 World Series.
22. "K'' placard used by fans at Shea Stadium to record Dwight Gooden's strikeouts in 1984, his rookie year, when he totaled 276.
23. Bat Mike Piazza used in 2004 to break Carlton Fisk's record for most home runs by a catcher.
24. Ball from Johan Santana's no-hitter, June 1, 2012 -- the only no-hitter by a Mets pitcher.
25. Vintage bucket used by hot dog vendor.
26. Cap worn during final game at Shea Stadium, Sept. 28, 2008, by first-base umpire Brian Gorman, whose father, Tom, umpired in the first game at Shea on April 17, 1964.
27. Bat used by Roy Campanella during his 1953 Most Valuable Player season.
28. No. 42 jersey presented to Jackie Robinson by Dodgers when they retired his number in 1972 (25 years before commissioner Bud Selig retired it throughout baseball).
29. Phillies cap worn by Jim Bunning during his perfect game at Shea Stadium, Father's Day, 1964.
30. Frank Robinson's Indians jersey from Opening Day in 1975, when he became Major League Baseball's first black manager.
31. Actual transfer agreement of Dec. 26, 1919, sending "George H. Ruth'' from Red Sox to Yankees for $25,000 "and other good and valuable considerations.''
32. Shoeless Joe Jackson's shoes.
33. Willie Mays' "New York'' jersey from 1957, when he became the first National Leaguer to have 20 or more doubles, triples and homers. It was the Giants' final season in New York.
34. Curt Schilling's 9/11-themed cap from 2001 World Series, with "NYFD'' and "NYPD'' inscribed in white paint.
35. A brick from Ebbets Field.
36. Ball from July 20, 1858 New York vs. Brooklyn "all-star'' game at Fashion Race Course in Queens, the first time admission was charged to watch baseball (10 cents).
37. Hickok belt presented to Phil Rizzuto as 1950 Professional Athlete of the Year.
38. Mickey Mantle baseball card from 1952, the first year Topps put team logo on front and statistics on back (valued at more than $35,000).
39. Cartoon of the lovable "Bum'' by Willard Mullin of the New York World Telegram. The Bum was the face of the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise.
40. A silver crown, adorned with 59 little silver baseballs, marking Babe Ruth's 59-homer season. Presented by admirers in 1921.
41. Joe Pepitone-model bat that Mickey Mantle used to become first switch hitter to hit his 500th home run.
42. MVP medal awarded to Rogers Hornsby after winning his second Triple Crown in 1925.
43. Shoe Maury Wills wore in 1962, when he stole 104 bases and played a record 165 games.
44. Full Atlanta Braves No. 44 uniform worn by Hank Aaron on April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th homer to break Babe Ruth's career record.
45. Bat from Ted Williams' 521st home run -- in his final career at-bat, Sept. 28, 1960.
46. Glove worn by Ty Cobb, who said he played "for the love of the game . . . the thrill of it.''
47. Sunglasses, cap, jersey and bat used by Cool Papa Bell (circa late 1920s).
48. First catcher's mask, inspired by fencing masks, designed by Harvard player/manager Fred Thayer in 1878.
49. Block of wood split by hand and autographed in 1954 by Cy Young, then 87.
50. Ball caught by Doug Mientkiewicz to finish 2004 World Series and end Red Sox "curse.''
51. Silver home run ball and bat presented to Ralph Kiner for leading the National League in home runs in 1949, 1952, respectively.
52. Appalachian League (Class D) ball from May 13, 1952, when Ron Necciai of the Bristol (Va.) Twins struck out 27 batters in a no-hitter against the Welch (W. Va.) Miners.
53. Wax cylinder recording and lyrics of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game.'' The latter was handwritten by Jack Norworth, the song's co-composer.
54. Bat with which Rick Wise of Phillies hit two home runs vs. Reds on June 23, 1971 -- as he pitched a no-hitter.
55. Sunglasses bolted to the hat worn by Edd Roush in 1931. Teammate Heinie Groh called Roush "the best outfielder I ever saw.''
56. "Wonderboy'' bat used by Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in 1984 film "The Natural.''
57. Ron Guidry's No. 49 jersey from his 25-3 1978 season.
58. Wade Boggs' batting gloves from his 3,000th hit (a home run), Aug. 7, 1999.
59. Willie Mays' bat, with which he pinch hit on Sept. 22, 1969, and belted his 600th home run.
60. What's left of David Freese's Cardinals jersey, torn by teammates celebrating his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
61. Fingerless glove circa late 1800s.
62. Ball signed by six Astros who pitched a combined no-hitter at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003.
63. Dizzy Dean's Cardinals jersey from 1934, when he won 30 games and was the National League's Most Valuable Player.
64. Nolan Ryan caps from each of his seven no-hitters (four Angels, two Rangers, one Astros).
65. Nellie Fox White Sox jersey from 1960, the first time names were put on players' backs.
66. Light blue Expos jersey worn July 28, 1991, by Dennis Martinez, the first Latin American to pitch a perfect game.
67. Bobby Thomson's Adirondack 302 bat, which hit The Shot Heard 'Round the World on Oct. 3, 1951.
68. Rosin bag used by Ralph Branca, who threw the pitch that Bobby Thomson hit.
69. Scorecard used by announcer Russ Hodges, who never filled in the last play because he was too busy shouting, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!''
70. 1976 White Sox uniform, with shorts.
71. Glove worn by Rube Waddell on July 4, 1905, when he pitched a 20-inning win against Cy Young, who also pitched 20 innings.
72. Oldest known jersey: Baraboo, Wis. Base Ball Club, 1865
73. Roy Halladay's Phillies jersey from Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series, one of only two postseason no-hitters in major-league history.
74. Glove, with short fingers and small pocket, used by Joe DiMaggio in the 1938 and 1939 world championship seasons (along with DiMaggio's bat, jersey, cap and shoes).
75. Jackie Robinson's hat from Brooklyn's only World Series title, 1955 (picked up from the field at Yankee Stadium by a fan).
76. Shoes worn by Cal Ripken in the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto. Ripken, in the midst of maybe his best season, singled in the first inning and clubbed a three-run homer in the third. He was voted the game's MVP.
77. Helmet and bat Bill Mazeroski used when he hit the dramatic home run to win Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
78. Official scouting report by Dodgers' Al Campanis on Roberto Clemente, Nov. 6, 1952. "A real good looking prospect!''
79. Wheaties box with Clemente on the front (part of Viva Baseball! Collection, which has citations in English and Spanish).
80. "Diamond Dreams'' women in baseball exhibit, with items ranging from Virginia Tezak's 1948 Racine Belles uniform (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) to Suzyn Waldman's 880 WCBS microphone.
81. Honus Wagner T206 card from 1909, considered "the Mona Lisa of baseball cards,'' with copies having been sold for $3 million.
82. Glove (Carl Yastrzemski model) worn by Bob Gibson in 1968, when he had a 1.12 earned run average.
83. Sandy Koufax's 1965 Cy Young Award trophy, his second of three (when only one was presented for all of the major leagues each year).
84. The Famous Chicken costume, also known as the San Diego Chicken, the trend-setter for team mascots and one of five mascot costumes in the Hall.
85. Pitching rubber from the first interleague game, Giants at Rangers, June 12, 1997.
86. Ticket stub from Reds-Dodgers game June 15, 1938 -- the first night game at Ebbets Field and Johnny Vander Meer's second consecutive no-hitter.
87. Original brick from Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, 1914. It was home for the Whales. The Cubs arrived two years later.
88. Barry Bonds' helmet and the ball from his 756th home run, breaking Hank Aaron's record, Aug. 7, 2007. The ball still has the asterisk that was affixed by a private collector.
89. Tom Glavine's jersey No. 47, from his 300th win, Aug. 5, 2007.
90. Balls-and-strikes indicator used by umpires in 1887, when it took five balls for a walk and four strikes for a strikeout.
91. "U.S.'' jersey worn by catcher Herman Goldberg of Brooklyn during baseball exhibition at 1936 Berlin Olympics (during batting practice, American players defied German generals' edict that balls not be hit into Adolf Hitler's box).
92. Oversized eyeglasses, the signature trademark of longtime announcer Harry Caray.
93. Ty Cobb's 1912 "Honey Boy'' Evans Trophy. Evans, a singer ("In the Good Old Summertime''), commissioned a different trophy for the batting champion every year. This one had a rectangular base topped by pitcher, batter and catcher figures, honoring Cobb's .410 average.
94. Pete Rose's shoes from Sept. 11, 1985, when he tied Cobb's all-time hit record.
95. Rose's Reds jersey and helmet and bat from his 1973 MVP season (among numerous other Rose artifacts).
96. 1955 baseball and football cards of Vic Janowicz, 1950 Heisman Trophy winner who played for the Pirates and Redskins.
97. Stetson hat worn by Dizzy Dean when he began doing the "Game of the Week'' on TV in 1953.
98. Mark McGwire's bat from Sept. 27, 1998, when he hit his 69th and 70th home runs of the season.
99. Bat and ball from Sammy Sosa's 62nd home run of the season, Sept. 13, 1998.
100. Alex Rodriguez's Yankees helmet from Aug. 4, 2007, when he became the youngest player to hit his 500th home run.