Rounding Third: Happy Birthday, Cooperstown

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Updated: 6/13 1:00 pm

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's been 75 years since Cooperstown, New York, opened its doors to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The small little town in upstate New York celebrated the opening of the museum and its first-ever induction in front of a standing-room-only crowd on Thursday.

"I stand in an institution that has grown from a one-room museum to an iconic site that has made an indelible mark on this region and on all of baseball," said National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum chairman Jane Forbes Clark.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the mythical birth of baseball, the Hall opened its doors on June 12, 1939. While most historians have since shot down the theory that baseball started in Cooperstown, if you ask anyone where the game began, the answer you are still sure to get is that quaint little town on the banks of beautiful Lake Otsego.

Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson were the first inductees into the Hall on that first day, and fittingly the ceremonies on Thursday took place in front of their plaques.

"Since for 100 years this game has lived and thrived and spread all over our country and a large part of the world, it is fitting that it should have a museum, a national museum," Major League Baseball's first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, said on that first day. "I should like to dedicate this museum to all America. To lovers of good sportsmanship, healthy bodies, keen minds, for those are the principals of baseball. So it is to them, rather than to the few who have been honored here, that I propose to dedicate this shrine of sportsmanship."

Speaking of Ruth, a new gallery in his honor will be unveiled on Friday, as the Hall celebrates the 100th anniversary of his big league debut. The new exhibit will feature some new film of Ruth, which according to Hall officials is believed to be the earliest known footage of him in a Yankees uniform.

If you are a baseball fan and haven't been to Cooperstown, what exactly are you waiting for? It should be on every fan's bucket list of things to do.

"We are baseball's version of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress all in one," Clark added.

The whole town is essentially baseball heaven. Forget the actual Hall for a second, the town itself and the one road leading in is littered with little shops along both sides that are packed with memorabilia.

Not to mention Doubleday Field.

"I know there's a magical something down in Florida, the Kingdom I think they call it, but this is the magical village," Hall of Famer Phil Niekro said. "It's so enjoyable to be here."

To this day, no sports Hall of Fame elicits the type of debates that the Baseball Hall of Fame does. I mean, can you even tell me who is going into the NFL Hall of Fame this summer?

Yes, unfortunately, the debates recently have centered around steroids, but still, is there a better discussion in sports right now than whether or not Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens are Hall of Famers?

My answer is yes, by the way.

The point is 75 years later people still care about the Baseball Hall of Fame and what it stands for.

So Happy Birthday, Cooperstown.

How about we let Pete Rose in now to celebrate?

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