Let museum, not Hall, tell the stories

If you visit Cooperstown, N.Y., next summer and later tell your friends about the trip, where will you start?

You're probably going to say, "I went to the Hall of Fame."

But you didn't. Not precisely. Precisely, you visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. In fact, you probably spent more time in the museum than in the Hall of Fame. The museum tells the story, through photos and displays and artifacts, of baseball's rich history. The Hall of Fame, with its plaques of honorees on the wall, strikes me as a static, dry sort of experience. During my only visit to Cooperstown, I spent three hours in the museum and perhaps 30 minutes in the Hall. What's more, the Hall of Fame was something of an afterthought; the idea for the museum came first.