Every major sport has a Hall of Fame and every player’s dream is to have a career that puts them on the road to someday be enshrined along side the other greats of the game. But where exactly are the Halls of Fame located?
Sports fans out west complain about the East Coast bias, as you will see, if the locations of the respective halls are an indication, they may have a strong case.
Let’s go on a road trip to the Hall of Fame.
We jump in the Fan bus and start from the northern most Hall of Fame and the only one outside of the US. You guessed it, Canada’s sporting contribution to the world.
Our first Hall of Fame stop is in downtown Toronto. A combination of a Hall of Fame and museum where you can see player memorabilia, exhibits and the Stanley Cup, the oldest competitive Cup in major sports. The Hockey Hall of Fame started in Kingston Ontario in 1945, and moved to Toronto in 1961. The first class of players included stars from the pre NHL era, as far back to the 1800’s. The most famous inductee is the great one, Wayne Gretzky.
Daily admission $15.
Back on the fan bus driving 221 miles southwest to the original home of American Professional Football Association, which later became the NFL.
We are in Canton, Ohio, where a very cool building with a dome resembling a giant football, displays trophies, artifacts and memories of field exploits performed by the best gridiron athletes of all-time. The first enshrinement took place in 1963 featuring the great Sammy Baugh, Jim Thorpe and Don Hutson. The most famous inductee is debatable but most have Jim Brown on top of the list.
Daily admission $20.
Our next destination may be the most secretive location for a Hall of Fame on our trip. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of a town called Canastota, NY. We drive 328 miles east and north of Syracuse for the sake of the sweet science.
Will the sport ever recapture its glory days where the heavyweight champion was the baddest and toughest man on the planet? Perhaps a personality as explosive as the many great fighters enshrined in Canastota will one day bring it back to prominence. The first induction ceremony took place in 1990, which included Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier and Rocky Marciano. Fighters from around he world and different eras are honored but one man remains the greatest of them all. I’m grateful to have lived during Ali’s prime and the age of the Internet.
We leave Canastota and head to the grand daddy of all Hall of Fames, Cooperstown. At just 50 miles, it’s the shortest distance between two Halls of Fame.
The oldest Hall of Fame honoring our nation’s pastime and the hardest and most distinguish post-playing honor in American sports. The rookie class in 1936 featured Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. What a team that would be. Great baseball players have come and gone, but there will always be one Sultan of Swat. The Bambino, remains the greatest member of the most prestigious Hall of Fame.
Daily admission $16.50.
It’s time to go back in time to an era when horse power really meant horsepower, and our five hundred horsepower Fan mobile will make the 60 mile trip in about an hour, where we will see little men riding on huge beasts.
The official name is the National Museum of Racing and Hall Of Fame, located next to the Saratoga racetrack. The organization enshrines, race horses, jockeys and trainers. The first class in 1955 included the record setting horse Salvatore and Jockey Ed Woolf. The most famous inductees are Secretariat and jockey Willie Shoemaker. Contrary to popular belief, Secretariat is not the last horse to win the Triple Crown. Seattle slew and Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1977 and 1978 respectively.
Daily admission $7.
90 miles southeast and we arrive at the building housing the men and women who mastered Mr. Naismith’s invention, throwing a round ball through a peach basket.
Welcome to Springfield, MA. The only Hall of Fame named after an individual person instead of the sport that it honors. The James Naismisth Memorial Hall of Fame. The first induction took place in 1959 featuring the great George Mikan. Today it is unanimously accepted by sports fans and non-sports fans alike that Mr. Naismith’s invention was perfected by Mr. Michael Jordan. The most architecturally impressive Hall of Fame building of all the major sports. The front is shaped like a giant basketball with beautiful night lighting.
Daily admission $16.99.
Have you ever seen cow’s gut? What kind of a question is that you may be asking? But another 70 miles to Newport RI and we will see Elsie’s intestines woven in a very interesting pattern.
Yes, natural tennis strings are made from dried cow’s intestines and not from cats. The tennis Hall of Fame includes many such exhibits and is the only Hall to hold an official competitive event on its grounds, and does so on induction week. The first class in 1955 featured tennis great Richard Sears. The most famous inductee is highly debatable. Each tennis era produces a player that surpasses the previous competitors. As of today, Pete Sampras, and Rod Laver fight for that title, until Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are inducted.
Daily admission $11.
Check the gas tank, we’re heading to the sunshine state. In 976 miles we’ll be in the nation’s oldest city.
Saint Augustine, the home of the Fountain of Youth, Ripleys’ Believe it or Not, and Alligator farms, also houses the greatest names in Golf. Part of the World Golf Village which offers two world class golf courses, Lodging, fine dining, Imax theater and of course the Golf Hall of Fame. The Hall opened in 1998 and grand fathered Hall of Fame members from its previous inception in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Until Tiger Woods retires and inducted, Jack Niklaus remains the most famous Golf Hall of Fame member.
Daily admission $16.50
We’re in Florida and no visit to the sunshine state is complete without walking on the warm blue south Florida beaches. 260 miles south of Saint Augustine and we’re two blocks from Las Olas Boulevard in Ft Lauderdale.
Ft. Lauderdale Beach to be exact, is the home of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Established in 1965 with famous swimmers turned actors, Buster Crabbe and Tarzan himself, Johnny Weissmueller. The most famous inductee is the great Mark Spitz. His then seven world records and seven gold medals in n the 1972 Olympics remain the one of the greatest feats in Olympic and sports history.
Daily admission $8
After almost two thousand miles, our Hall of Fame road trip has come to an end. Not on our list is the Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY. They’ve closed their doors to the public but continues to enshrine members yearly.
Hall of Fames observe and preserve greatness. A walk through their doors will inspire everyone to strive for their best, always.