Best place for aquiet walk withyour spouse afterall that baseball: Anywhere alongOtsego Lake. Cooperstown is quitepretty, with the lakeand the hills around itproviding a soothingbackdrop.
Best fine dining:Alex & Ika. This MainStreet gem offersinventive continentalfare. Try the spicyhabanero shrimpcheesecake and thehouse cocktails. Mywife and I enjoyedevery item we ordered.
Best place to graba snack: Danny'sMain Street Marketfeatures robustsandwiches, delectablebaked goods andsome excellent beers.Locals flock there atlunch, which is always agood sign.
Best displayrelated to aballplayer: TedWilliams thought abouthitting so precisely thathe figured out whataverage he couldattain for pitches inevery part of the strikezone. The Halldemonstrates hisfindings with arectangle of color codedballs. It's hard todescribe, but itcaptures instantlyWilliams' manicdevotion to his craft.
Best interactiveexhibit: The virtualtour of Boston's SouthEnd Grounds, whichburned down in 1894.It's amazing to feelyou're entering agrandstand that hasn'thosted a game in morethan a century.
Best baseballcards: The Old Judgeset. The Hall'scollection includesmore than 135,000cards, many of themfamous. But check outthese sepia-tonedcards from the 1880sto gain perspective onthe deep roots of thehobby.
Best collecteddisplay ofmemorabilia: Thewall featuring ballsfrom every no-hittersince 1940. On theone hand, it's stunningto see how regularlyNolan Ryan pulled offthis feat. On the other,the display is atestament to thefleeting nature ofpitching greatness,because many whothrew no-hitters couldnot pull offdistinguished careers.
Best Hall of Fameplaques: There's areason the first class isset aside at the front ofthe gallery. If you werebuilding a baseballRushmore, Babe Ruth,Ty Cobb, WalterJohnson, ChristyMathewson andHonus Wagnerwouldn't make a badstart.
Best place to feelthe magic of theHall of Fame: Theplaque gallery. It's notan inventive answer,but that's where thehistory of baseball'sgreatest performerscomes together. It'salso a quiet spot suitedfor contemplation.
[CHILDS WALKER]Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times