Hall of Fame Tour a natural fit in Milwaukee, where Hank Aaron got his start
By Allison Duffy-Davis
Thousands of fans will converge upon Cooperstown to watch as Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza become immortalized in the Hall of Fame this weekend. But for many of those who can't attend Induction Weekend, the Hall of Fame has brought its relics to them.
Baseball's Hall of Fame tour rolled into Milwaukee -- a city more than 300 times the size of Cooperstown -- on July 15, bringing with it an exciting opportunity to catch a glimpse of the game's past. The Tour launched on July 3 at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa, where fans got the first taste of the state-of-the-art baseball experience. Davenport is a mere 90 minutes south of the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, where Commissioner Rob Manfred unveiled the plans for the traveling exhibit, becoming the first active Commissioner to make a pilgrimage to the storied location.
"The idea," Manfred said, "of taking another baseball shrine, Cooperstown, and making it mobile so that people around the country have a more realistic opportunity to share in the experience is a great idea."
The Tour features 45 artifacts from Cooperstown's collection, plus interactive games and displays, an in-game virtual reality experience, and the first and only mobile IMAX movie in the country. Among the traveling treasures is the ball hit by Hammerin' Hank Aaron -- who began his storied career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 -- for his 714th home run, matching the record held by Babe Ruth.
"Being here in Milwaukee is great," said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. "The history of the game is so steeped [here].
"You're seeing baseball as [it's] never [been] seen before. It's understanding the history of the game but doing so through modern technology."
The night before the Tour's Milwaukee launch, Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig -- the former Brewers owner who's been credited with keeping a Major League team in the state -- previewed the state-of-the-art exhibit in the shadow of Miller Park.
"As somebody who loves the history of the game, this is a most extraordinary way to show its history -- a most modern, interactive way," said Selig.
Baseball's ninth Commissioner vowed to return and explore the exhibition, including a Jackie Robinson exhibit he deemed "priceless," in greater depth during the Tour's 17-day stint at Miller Park.
Selig was far from the only notable baseball lifer to usher the tour into Brewers territory. Rollie Fingers, a member of the 1992 Hall of Fame class, finished his 17-year career with four seasons in Milwaukee in the early 1980s. In 1981, he led the league in saves while helping a potent squad featuring fellow Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor -- plus World Series winning Royals skipper Ned Yost -- to an AL East title and an ALDS showdown with the Yankees.
"This is a pretty neat road show," Fingers said. "I could stay a whole day out here and enjoy this stuff."
The Hall of Fame Tour visits Miller Park until July 31. For fans interested in a double feature -- including a visit to the Tour followed by a night at the ballgame -- the Brewers begin the second half on the road, but return for a 10-game homestand from July 22-31.
Remaining stops along the Tour for 2016 include Kansas City, St. Louis, Minnesota and Las Vegas. Visit halloffametour.com for more information.
Allison Duffy-Davis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.