En español | Baseball's history is also America's history — a game created in New York City in the 1840s that grew into a beloved national pastime that “has helped us through some of our darkest times,” in the words of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
Several museums across the country pay homage to the sport while exploring the ways it has reflected and helped shape the country's social and cultural identity.
Whether you're a diehard fan or just someone who enjoys an occasional afternoon at the ol’ ball game, these six spots are worth a visit.
National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, New York)
For more than 80 years, baseball fans have flocked to the charming upstate New York village of Cooperstown to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Spread across three floors, more than 40,000 remarkable artifacts share stories of baseball’s most iconic players and moments. Collection highlights include everything from Hank Aaron’s 714th home run ball to uniforms worn by the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Andy Warhol’s 1977 Pop Art portrait of Tom Seaver, and a 1964 proposal for a Bill of Rights for Latino players written by Dominican Felipe Alou. Don’t miss walking through the hallowed corridors of the museum’s first-floor Hall of Fame Gallery, which features bronze plaques honoring the 333 players, managers, umpires and executives who have been enshrined in Cooperstown since 1936.
COVID-19 update: Museum capacity is currently limited to allow for physical distancing. Timed admission tickets can be purchased online and allow guests to reserve a specific date and time to enter the museum. Face coverings are required for all visitors and staff.
25 Main St.; 607-547-7200 or 888-425-5633; $25 adults (13-64), $20 adults 65-plus with valid ID, $15 children 7-12, free for children 6 and under.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (Kansas City, Missouri)
On Feb. 13, 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster gathered the owners of seven Midwestern Black baseball teams for a meeting at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City. His goal? To establish a Black professional league that would protect owners and players from being fleeced by white booking agents who controlled access to big stadiums. Together, the group established the Negro National League, which operated for 40 years, sparking economic growth within Black communities and leading to social change in America. Today, those teams are celebrated at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, just two blocks from that historic YMCA. Through interactive exhibits, video presentations and memorable artifacts, museum visitors learn the history of African American baseball from Jim Crow to Jackie Robinson, examining both the impact of discrimination and racial divide on the Black players’ experience and the role the game played in promoting desegregation and social advancement.
COVID-19 update: The museum requires all visitors to reserve a timed-entry spot in advance to allow for physical distancing. This is a free passport that allows entrance into the museum building. Once you have secured your timed-entry spot, museum tickets can be purchased in advance. Face coverings are required for all visitors and staff.
1616 East 18th St.; 816-221-1920; $10 adults, $9 adults 65 and older, $6 children 5-12.
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory (Louisville, Kentucky)
What do Cal Ripken Jr., Derek Jeter, Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig have in common? Besides being some of baseball's most famous players, each one stepped up to the plate swinging a genuine Louisville Slugger bat. Dedicated to baseball's second most important piece of equipment, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory pays homage to both the players who set records with their Sluggers and the skilled craftspeople who make them. An enormous, 120-foot replica of Babe Ruth's iconic bat greets museum guests who head inside to swing for the fences in the batting cages, view a bat once used by Mickey Mantle, and examine the third Slugger Joe DiMaggio used during his epic 1941 hitting streak. But the best part may just be the new tour experience at the on-site factory, where cylinders of northern white ash are turned into 1.8-million bats every year. You'll even walk away with a miniature Slugger of your own.
COVID-19 update: Timed admission tickets are required and can be purchased online. Masks are required for entry for all visitors age 6 and above. If you do not have a mask, you may purchase one at the door for $1.
800 West Main St.; 877-775-8443; $16 adults, $15 adults 60 and older, $9 children 6-12, free for children 5 and under.
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum (Baltimore, Maryland)
Whether you know him as the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout or the Great Bambino, there's no denying that George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. was a baseball legend. Tucked down a Baltimore side street a short walk from Oriole Park at Camden Yards sits the red brick row house where Ruth was born and lived until he was sent to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys at age 7. That house is now a museum that traces the Babe's life story from his tumultuous childhood years through his rise to fame and his poignant personal life. A handful of exhibits — assembled with the help of Ruth's widow, sisters and daughters — feature memorable pieces like his boyhood catcher's mitt, his 1914 rookie baseball card, and a kimono from Tokyo's Imperial Hotel that was presented to the Babe during a 1934 barnstorming tour of Japan.
216 Emory St.; 410-727-1539; $12 adults, $10 military and adults 65 and older, $6 children/teens 5-16. (No advanced ticket purchase is necessary.)
World of Little League Museum (South Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
Every professional ballplayer has to start somewhere, and many of the greats took to the field for the first time in Little League. Learn all about the official, six-inning game and the organization behind it at the World of Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania — a complex that's also home to the annual monthlong Little League World Series. A short video kicks off a self-guided tour that leads visitors through Little League history. Along the way, informative displays and interactive exhibits allow adults and kids alike to test their skills while exploring the traditions and ideals of Little League baseball and softball. At the Global Touch Table, a museum favorite, guests can tap into information about more than 750 Little League programs around the world, while the Hall of Excellence showcases Little League “graduates” who serve as exemplary adult role models for children.
COVID-19 update: World of Little League Museum is currently closed but is expected to reopen during the first week in June. Be sure to check the museum website at littleleague.org/world-of-little-league for opening updates and visitor requirements prior to visiting.
525 Montgomery Pike (U.S. 15); 570-326-3607; $5 adults, $3 adults 62 and older, $2 children 5-12, free for children 4 and under. (Admission exceptions noted on the website.)
National Ballpark Museum (Denver, Colorado)
When Bruce Hellerstein was asked to picture his “perfect paradise” during a personal growth workshop back in the 1980s, he immediately envisioned a baseball field. A longtime fan of the game, Hellerstein collected baseball cards as a young boy before moving on to acquire more impressive artifacts — especially those related to classic baseball stadiums. Inspired by that workshop vision, he transformed his basement into B's Ballpark Museum to display his trove, which was featured in Stephen Wong's Smithsonian Baseball as one of the finest private baseball collections in the world. In 2010, Hellerstein's treasures took up residence in a new location just a line drive from Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies. These days, baseball aficionados come to the National Ballpark Museum to ogle relics like a panel from Fenway's famous Green Monster that bears an imprint from a ball; authentic seats from classic ballparks, including Wrigley Field and Shea Stadium; a rare usher's cap from Brooklyn's Ebbets Field; and an old Yankee Stadium turnstile.
COVID-19 update: No advance ticket purchase is necessary. Face coverings and social distancing are required. Museum occupancy is limited to 10 visitors at a time.
1940 Blake St.; 303-974-5835; $10 adults, $5 adults 65 and older, free for active military and teens/children 16 and under; closed Sundays, Mondays and holidays.