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Best of the Hall and the town
Best place for a quiet walk with your spouse after all that baseball: Anywhere along Otsego Lake. Cooperstown is quite pretty, with the lake and the hills around it providing a soothing backdrop.
Best fine dining: Alex & Ika. This Main Street gem offers inventive continental fare. Try the spicy habanero shrimp cheesecake and the house cocktails. My wife and I enjoyed every item we ordered.
Best place to grab a snack: Danny's Main Street Market features robust sandwiches, delectable baked goods and some excellent beers. Locals flock there at lunch, which is always a good sign.
Best display related to a ballplayer: Ted Williams thought about hitting so precisely that he figured out what average he could attain for pitches in every part of the strike zone. The Hall demonstrates his findings with a rectangle of color coded balls. It's hard to describe, but it captures instantly Williams' manic devotion to his craft.
Best interactive exhibit: The virtual tour of Boston's South End Grounds, which burned down in 1894. It's amazing to feel you're entering a grandstand that hasn't hosted a game in more than a century.
Best baseball cards: The Old Judge set. The Hall's collection includes more than 135,000 cards, many of them famous. But check out these sepia-toned cards from the 1880s to gain perspective on the deep roots of the hobby.
Best collected display of memorabilia: The wall featuring balls from every no-hitter since 1940. On the one hand, it's stunning to see how regularly Nolan Ryan pulled off this feat. On the other, the display is a testament to the fleeting nature of pitching greatness, because many who threw no-hitters could not pull off distinguished careers.
Best Hall of Fame plaques: There's a reason the first class is set aside at the front of the gallery. If you were building a baseball Rushmore, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner wouldn't make a bad start.
Best place to feel the magic of the Hall of Fame: The plaque gallery. It's not an inventive answer, but that's where the history of baseball's greatest performers comes together. It's also a quiet spot suited for contemplation.