One of my favorite places to visit is Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I have also visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and (most recently last summer) the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Both are great, but there is something special about baseball’s museum. The football Hall of Fame is right on an interstate. You come out, get in your car, and you’re gone. The Hockey Hall of Fame is right in the heart of downtown Toronto. You come out, and you are immediately jostled by people rushing by, many of whom probably do not even recognize the significance of the building they are passing. The Hall of Fame is in an old bank building and is easy to miss. But in Cooperstown, you can walk down the three blocks or so between the Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field, and at least two out of every three storefronts are baseball related. You can get baseball memorabilia, team clothing for any team, and even many of the restaurants have pictures of famous ballplayers all over the walls. In Cooperstown, you are immersed in baseball.
The issue with my schedule this year is that if I were to go to Cooperstown right from New York, I would be there during their big Induction weekend, when they officially recognize the newly elected members of the Hall of Fame. That would be exciting, but the normally small village of Cooperstown is usually swamped with people. As exciting as that could be, it’s a little too much of a crowd for someone just coming from riding the subways in New York City. So before going to Cooperstown, I am going to spend a few days up in Montreal. That is where I will be when you read this column (assuming you read it on Sunday).
Montreal is a fascinating city that I have seen a few times before. I hope to see some religious sites, particularly the Oratory of St. Joseph, built by St. André Bessette, who was known as “the Miracle Man of Montreal.” I also look forward to doing the same thing I did on my last trip here. I will go to Mass twice. I will attend the Mass at the English-speaking St. Patrick’s Basilica on Saturday night, but then I will go to Mass in French on Sunday morning at the Cathedral Marie La Riene du Monde on Sunday. Visiting Montreal always reminds me of how long it has been since my high school and college French classes, but I like to see how much of the liturgy I can follow.
Lest you think this is just a busman’s holiday, I will also do some other touristy things. My second-favorite hockey team, after the Penguins, has always been the Montreal Canadiens, back to the days of Jean Beliveau. The last time I was in Montreal, I made plans to take a tour of the Canadiens’ arena. When I arrived at the appointed time, there was a sign taped to the door that the building was closed and the tours canceled because of a power outage. So I hope to make up that tour this time.
I will be returning to the parish on Friday evening. I look forward to being back with you (refreshed by my time away) next weekend.