The Hall of Halls
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
By Max Toth
With this week’s re-opening of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, I thought it would be interesting to rank all the sports Hall of Fames that I’ve been lucky enough to visit with my family. Halls that won’t be included are the Baskeball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts which we were planning to visit this summer but obviously couldn’t due to COVID, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ontario, which is unfortunately more like visiting your Grandmother‘s attic than touring a grand museum.
3. Football Hall of Fame
Now, despite it‘s low ranking, I’d still highly recommend the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It boasts some interesting interactive games, like a station where fans can create their own (virtual) Super Bowl rings and a replay booth where you can act as an NFL referee and attempt to properly review a play. However, you have to wonder why they couldn’t toss in one of those “60 second drill” target throwing games, something you can even find at your local Chuck E. Cheese. There were also a few places where the creators of the Hall just seemed to mail it in, like the “food court” which turned out to be just a plain old room with a couple of tables and a Peyton Manning poster. Or the station where fans could play the 2013 version of “Madden”, which would’ve been cool if our visit hadn’t taken place in 2018.
2. Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown, New York, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, is any baseball fan’s dreamworld. The picturesque town features a main street lined with baseball-themed restaurants, memorabilia shops and even an escape room that features a baseball mystery to solve. Inside the walls of the Hall, it’s low on interactivity, but high on outstanding artifacts. Do you want to check out the glove Willie Mays used to make “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series? The Hall has that famous piece of leather and, of course, it also contains the hallowed plaque gallery, featuring each and every inducted legend. So, although it might not be for younger or more casual fans, the Baseball Hall of Fame is the place to be for true diamond fanatics.
1. The Hockey Hall of Fame
Alright, so I may be a tad biased on this one, since many of my fondest childhood memories have been forged at the Hockey Hall of Fame in my hometown of Toronto. However, I truly believe the Hockey Hall has mastered the blend between fun and learning, something our nation‘s finest educatIonal minds have been trying to do for decades. The first stop for many visitors is a mini-rink complete with boards, stands and a jumbotron. There’s no real ice, however, so you can leave your skates at home; unless you’re a true hockey fanatic, in which case you should try to at least slap on your skate guards. The mini-rink is home to two of the Hall‘s top attractions. First off, fans can try to fire pucks past a catalog of virtual goaltenders from the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers. Then you can find out how tough it is to be an NHL netminder when you strap on the pads yourself and face shots from some of the league‘s best snipers. Not up for getting in the way of a Zdeno Chara slap-shot? Well then, how about trying your hand at some hockey trivia, designed for hardcore puck nerds. Or you can catch the 3D “Stanley’s Game Seven” movie before heading upstairs to the TSN broadcast booth, where you can perform your own play-by-play on some of hockey’s most iconic moments. Keep your dad away from the booth, though. Because if he’s like mine, he’ll get a kick out of describing Bobby Orr’s famous “Superman” Stanley Cup winning goal by using the voice of Borat. (“Yes! I like! High Five! Niiice!”) Oh, and you can also play the NHL’s video game and, unlike the blast from the past at the Football Hall, it’s even completely up-to-date. Usually, to close our visit, we head up to the “Cathedral of Hockey” which features plaques for all 417 Hall inductees. You can also inspect the individual trophies handed out to the star players and to cap it all off, you can even get your picture taken with the Stanley Cup - the most gorgeous trophy in all of sports. It’s tough to beat that and it’s one of the many reasons that I rate the Hockey Hall as the best of them all.
Maybe next time I’ll review the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, which actually does exist. But until then, you can’t go wrong taking a family trip to the trio of Halls that we gave you a sneak peak at in this blog.