LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (PIX11) — Many baseball fanatics consider the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to be heaven. For some, the next closest thing to nirvana is the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey.
“We like to call ourselves a mini-Cooperstown that is much closer to New York City and the surrounding areas,” Yogi Berra Museum executive director Eve Schaenen explained. “We’ve got all the memorabilia when you think about the lifespan of Yogi Berra. Not just as a person, but as a player.”
Berra’s legendary legacy is alive and well right in the heart of Montclair State University. Since 1998, the Yogi Berra Museum has attracted the most passionate New York Yankees and baseball fans.
Berra’s 10 World Series rings and service in World War II aren’t the only reasons visitors want to see this exhibit.
“What we often say is he wasn’t just a hall of fame player but a hall of fame human being,” Schaenen told PIX11 News. “If you look around the walls of this museum, so much of the text you will see are about the values he stood for — respect, teamwork, perseverance and loyalty.”
The museum is more than a learning opportunity. It’s also interactive as soon as guests walk through the doors.
There’s an opportunity to grip the bat of legends like Berra and Babe Ruth that sit in a glass case. The other top interactive element allows visitors to throw a soft rubber ball against the wall. The installation tracks the ball’s measured velocity and records it as a strike or ball.
Even the animated characters on the screen pay homage to Berra.
“Of course, there is the iconic play where Jackie Robinson stole home in the World Series, but we love to talk about that moment in history,” Schaenen said. “We thought it would be fitting to have in our interactive installation Yogi behind the plate and Jackie hitting.”
The perception of who Berra was and what he stood for can be felt and seen at every corner of his museum.
The championship rings, the Yogi-isms, pictures with presidents, and a list of endless achievements are all there at Montclair State.
“Yogi Berra is one of those rare instances where he transcends all of that and has become almost an idea,” Schaenen said. “An idea of respecting others. An idea of treating everyone with equal respect.”