The Hall of Fame has brought its new interactive traveling exhibit We Are Baseball to the lot adjacent to the Mall of America for a two-week stop. It’s advertised as combining the timeless charm of Cooperstown with cutting-edge technology, but I found the exhibit longer on technology than on the historical baseball artifacts that are found on a visit to the Hall of Fame itself. Those who have been to Cooperstown will find this exhibit to be a much different experience.
That said, everyone will see some wonderful examples of baseball history — including the hat worn by Jackie Robinson in the World Series, a baseball thrown by Cy Young, bats used by Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, a hot dog vending bucket from 1910, and a Honus Wagner baseball card from 1909.
Among the interactive experiences available to attendees is a virtual reality headset that immerses you in a 365-degree tour of different baseball events. The coolest for me was standing on the field and turning to see the players coming out from the dugout right in front of me. There are two green screens where I was able to choose and place myself into the Brewers’ sausage race (above) and stand on the field as Hank Aaron ran past me to score his record-breaking home run. There were video screens where I could select stories to hear, such as Jackie Robinson talking about his experience breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. There was a table where I could play games that tested my baseball knowledge.
Your visit will start with an original 12-minute IMAX film featuring footage highlighting the past, present, and future of baseball. It starts, of course, with a look at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and then goes back to children playing the game of baseball under very different conditions in many countries. It also shows footage of major league baseball players talking about their joy in, and appreciation for, the game of baseball. Leaving the movie you enter an area that opens to five different trailers with different exhibits focusing on the stories, memories, tradition and experience of the game.
I was fortunate to see the exhibit before the official opening on Friday and was able to take full advantage of every experience offered. I wonder how the same visit will feel if there are 40 – 50 people in a trailer waiting for a turn to do the same thing. I would have liked to see more artifacts for those who may not get to all of the technology being showcased.
We Are Baseball will be in Minnesota through September 29. Try to plan your visit to avoid peak times such as the weekends. Even though the exhibit is outside, all of the entrances to the movie and the exhibits are covered, so a rainy day may be a good choice for you.