The genesis of this rant is complicated. I've enjoyed visiting the Halls of Fame in Cooperstown and in Springfield, Mass. and in Canton. I've not
been to the horseracing Hall of Fame near Saratoga, but several people who have been there assure me that I will like it when I eventually go there.
So, I can't say that I have a longstanding prejudice against the establishment of Halls of Fame for sporting events but I do have to admit that I much
prefer watching games than I do looking at artifacts of games.
In late April, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2006. The only person in that class I had ever heard of was Geno Auriemma
and there isn't a whole lot of doubt that he's a man. There were five women inducted simultaneously and I never heard of any of them. I thought that
was unusual and that maybe this organization had already inducted its really famous folks - - and then I didn't think about it anymore. But right on
the heels of reading that item, I had the occasion to be driving across the northern part of Indiana and noticed some construction underway by the
side of the highway. A large sign proclaimed that this would be the future edifice containing the RV and Motor Home Hall of Fame. As we drove by
that partially constructed building, I asked my long-suffering wife who was in the shotgun seat a simple question, 'Why?'
Soon after that journey ended and I was back in Curmudgeon Central, I came to read that the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minnesota will probably
have to close this year. It had two full time employees who have been cut back to part time and the rest of the work is done by volunteers.
Nevertheless, it cannot remain economically viable. And that is when I began to think that there are just too many Halls of Fame. Whether or not you
are a baseball seamhead, you have to recognize that there are millions of baseball fans out there and so maybe there is enough interest in the game to
create and support a hall of fame. The same goes for football and basketball. The same will be true when the NASCAR Hall of Fame is finished its
construction sometime soon. Maybe there are a few other things in our society that really deserve a hall of fame, but maybe - just maybe - there are
too many of them out there.
Consider a few halls of fame that I 'discovered' that might not be essential to the furtherance of Western Civilization. I don't mean these
institutions are evil or subversive in any way; I just think they might border on irrelevant or trivial. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame might be
one such institution. It was all started over a casual lunch of red beans and rice. That's not my statement; that is how they describe the
beginnings of that institution. So, was that a flash of insight and inspiration that came upon the founders at that lunch or was it a gas attack?
While there are lots of people who pitch horseshoes and enjoy doing so, I think that I'm on safe ground declaring horseshoe pitching to be a minor
sport that has a niche audience. I don't doubt for a moment that there is skill involved in this endeavor, but this is not a big deal in the sporting
- or societal - firmament. But opening in 2006 will be the Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame and Museum in Wentzville, MO. For the record, Wentzville
is not all that far from St. Louis.
In the metropolis of St. Louis itself, you can visit the International Bowling Hall of Fame. Being as close as it is to the hall of fame opening in
Wentzville MO, this will provide data for physicists who worry that too great a density of halls of fame in a small area might create a wormhole into
a parallel universe. At this institution, you can learn that bowling started in ancient Egypt; that revelation could also cause you to ponder when -
if ever - it will become a major sport...
There is a Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs. The centerpiece here is an exhibit featuring the original
saddles, ropes, clothing and hats used and worn by rodeo contestants. I couldn't find out if they also had an exhibit of the X-rays taken of these
participants showing the multiple fractures and the MRIs done to show all of the soft tissue damage done to the contestants. I shan't be traveling
all the way to Colorado Springs to find this out.
If you want to see how precisely one might parse the term 'hall of fame' in order to create such an institution, consider that there exists a Greater
Cleveland Slo Pitch Softball Hall of Fame and Museum. If you don’t believe me, use Google and you'll find out all about it. Once again, softball
is an endeavor that requires skill; but other than the family members of the inductees, what is the deep-rooted societal interest in this institution?
Let me put it this way, I hope these folks pay their electric bills on time because if the exhibits are dark, I figure I'd stay awake in them for
something approaching eleven minutes.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also in Cleveland and once again - presuming that I can choose the individual pieces I would be listening to - I
would much prefer to listen to rock and roll music than to look at artifacts of the musicians. For example, this hall of fame displays John Lennon's
report card from primary school. That's nice, but I doubt that it will alter in any way the appreciation I have for Hey Jude. If I were to visit
there, I might also gaze upon Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform. Other than a different human DNA sequence imprinted upon the fabric there, just how
might looking at that uniform be different than gazing upon the Cub Scout uniform of Joe Flabeetz? This institution says it tries to shed 'an
intimate light on people whose real lives have been obscured by glamour'. Maybe it would be better if they didn't pay their electric bills and had
that intimate light shut down?
The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville is a counterpart of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and once again I'd rather listen to the music than look
at the guitar pick used by someone who was in the back-up band for someone else. But that's just me; at least there are a jillion people who follow
country music. There are other niche halls of fame in the music world that seem to be right near the line of relevance. For example, the Gospel
Music Hall of Fame in Detroit Michigan is open by appointment only. I think that is tantamount to admitting that they do not have throngs of folk
storming the doors to get in each and every day. And there is a Canadian Music Hall of Fame in Toronto. I know there are many famous and
accomplished musicians from Canada some of whose work I have enjoyed in my lifetime; but when I learned that the 2004 inductee to this institution was
a person or persons known as 'The Tragically Hip', I thought that they might be running out of new blood. I'm sure someone will let me know if 'The
Tragically Hip' consists of people who have had unsuccessful hip replacement surgery...
Another Canadian hall of fame caught my attention. In Parry Sound, Ontario there is the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. There can be no doubt about Bobby
Orr's greatness in the world of hockey; I will cast no aspersions in that direction. Bobby Orr changed the way that hockey was played in the 1960s.
However, I do wonder about who might be the inductees into the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. Is this for Bobby Orr look-alikes? If so, might that presage
a new wing on the Rock and Roll Hall of fame for Elvis impersonators?
There is an International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo NM. Given the proximity of this institution to Roswell NM, I wonder if they have an
'intergalactic wing' too. Meanwhile in Titusville, FL, you might choose to visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I don't want to be too abstruse here,
but I suspect you can figure out who the honorees might be in the Astronaut Hall of Fame...
Once again testing the limits of how many halls of fame can exist in close proximity to one another without damaging the space-time continuum, you can
leave the Astronaut Hall of Fame and travel across town in Titusville, FL to visit the American Police Hall of Fame. Included here are replicas of
jail cells and gas chambers and 'Old Sparky' in addition to more than 10,000 items on permanent exhibit ranging from weaponry to police badges to old
photographs. I sure hope that the folks who provide the security for the American Police Hall of Fame are on their toes. Imagine the headlines:
Police Hall of Fame Robbed
No Leads As To The Perps
In California, there is a Burlesque Hall of Fame; and wouldn't you know it, the building is located on Wild Road. One important section of the
artifacts collected here is the display of G-strings used by performers. If I could stay awake for something close to eleven minutes in the Slo Pitch
Softball Hall of Fame, I think this one might hold my attention for about four minutes...
In Akron, there is the National Inventors Hall of Fame. One of the co-founders of this hall of fame is the US Patent Office, which may explain why
one needs to have a patent on one's invention to be eligible for induction here. The subjective criterion for being inducted is that one's invention
must have done something to further society. I guess that would include the person who invented the wheel but would eliminate the person who invented
the flat tire. Maybe some of these folks need to invent a reason or an excuse to get out of Akron Ohio...
Once out of Akron, those folks can visit Pickerington, Ohio to see the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and Museum. It should be no surprise that Evel Knievel
is honored there; you might be surprised to know that cycling enthusiast Jay Leno has a plaque in the hall. They once had a temporary exhibit on the
'evolving sales strategies of motorcycle manufacturers through the years'. Sorry I missed that one...
In a few cases, we have dueling halls of fame. The Cycling Hall of Fame in Westminster, CO is dedicated to 'preserving the history of cycling's
greatest races and the riders who rode them.' Down the road - to coin a phrase - in Crested Butte CO, there is the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
originally founded to 'chronicle the history of mountain biking'. But now it has expanded to include highlights of the greatest mountain bike races -
presumably ones that were missed by those folks up there in Westminster CO. The Saskatchewan Hall of Fame in Regina has a new wing dedicated to
'Pedaling Across the Prairies' and it honors the 100-year history of cycling and bicycles and bicycle accessories. And back east in Bridgewater NJ,
there is the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame founded to preserve the history and promote the sport of cycling. Are all of these places really
You can get pretty far afield in the world of halls of fame when you get to inanimate objects. There is a Robot Hall of Fame recently founded at
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Honorees here include robots from science fiction that have 'served as creative inspiration' in the field
of robotics. There is also the American Textile Hall of Fame near Boston honoring folks who 'contributed to advancing the art, science or history of
textiles in America.' I mentioned earlier the RV and Motor Home Hall of Fame under construction; I wonder how long it might be until there is a
Vacuum Cleaner Hall of Fame or a Garbage Disposal Hall of Fame and Museum. I'd like to put the expansion of halls of fame on a slower track. Surely
the world can do without a Bloggers Hall of Fame.
In New York City, there is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans founded in 1900. Here's the basis for this institution: 'By wealth of thought, or
else by mighty deed, they served mankind in noble character. In worldwide good, they live forever more.' That is impressive indeed. But where is
the Hall of Fame for Mediocre Americans? Remember that former Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska asserted that putting a mediocre American on the Supreme
Court was a perfectly good idea. And recognizing the danger in advocating for self-interest, where is the Hall of Fame for Curmudgeonly Americans?
Finally, in Springfield MO, there is a Writer's Hall of Fame. You may all rest easy in the knowledge that I am not on their short list for nomination
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...