TORONTO - When it comes to Cooperstown, America is living a lie.
Even before major-league baseball opened the doors to the Hall of Fame, historians and scholars were throwing up the E1 sign at Albert Spalding’s wishful notion that baseball was born in this community.
Nothing new there.
Despite that, more than 300,000 people annually drive through the rolling hills and cornfields of upstate New York to commune with past heroes with sect-like fervour. Downtown is an economic gold mine in an otherwise financially challenged countryside, the sidewalks crowded with tables of collector cards, entrepreneurs offering mawkish souvenirs in cramped stores. Much like the tale of Cooperstown itself, everything from the authentic to the suspect is for sale. Sidewalks are dotted by former players kibitzing and signing autographs for the converted, hired by such entrepreneurs as the Where It All Began Bat Company store.
Except that this is not where it all began.