Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Cruising for the baseball fan

by Dawn Woolcott


As we begin another season of baseball, America’s Pastime is on the mind of many. From the challenge of learning to swing a bat and hit a ball off a tee, catching with two hands, to throwing a ball and actually having it land where you wanted it to go, baseball has become a part of childhood for so many generations. Learning that hand-eye coordination, the patience of standing in the outfield waiting for a ball to hit your way, or being part of a team and dependent upon others to move you ‘round the bases so you can score – these are all just part of the life lessons learned while playing. Most play just for the love of the game. The aspect of learning is a bonus (plus, there were always snacks after the game.) That love of baseball doesn’t fade as you age. 

You may not be able to run the bases as fast as you used to, but it is still a joy to watch. Baseball fans will love being able to visit one of these museums or ballparks filled with stories, artifacts, and videos of the history of the game. Many of these are available to be visited while on a river cruise or small ship cruise. 

Field of Dreams

Dubuque, Iowa

“If you build it, he will come.” 

That simple sentence was the basis for an iconic American movie. It left anyone grieving the loss of childhood or the loss of a parent weeping by the end of the movie. The movie is set in a simple white farmhouse on the edge of a large cornfield.  The baseball diamond built for the movie has been kept intact and welcomes visitors. Cruises on the Upper Mississippi stopping in Dubuque offer you the chance to visit this instantly recognizable location and perhaps even have a game of catch with someone you love.  

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

Louisville, Kentucky

If Paul Bunyon wanted to hit a homerun, he just might stop by the Louisville Slugger factory in Louisville. There is no mistaking where you are when you turn the corner and see the enormous baseball bat leaning against the building. The traditional wooden bat is used around the world from Little Leaguers to the Big League. That crack of the bat is the sound most players say they love the most. Step inside and you can watch how a bat is made, but also explore the museum with original artifacts from legends such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Derek Jeter, and Johnny Bench. You can even hold one of their bats for a great photo op (under the watchful eye of a docent!) and experience how fast a 90 mph pitch really feels. Stop by the museum in Louisville on an Ohio River cruise. 

Monument Park at Yankee Stadium

Bronx, New York

Choose a cruise that stops in New York City and find your way over to the Bronx to experience Yankee Stadium. You can either pass by the stadium from the river on a day-cruise that circles Manhattan Island, or purchase a one-hour guided tour at the stadium itself.

City of Baseball Museum

St. Paul, Minnesota

Located inside the stadium of the St. Paul Saints, a triple A team. Admission is free when you attend a game, or you can arrange a tour on their website if you’re in town when the team is on the road. The St. Paul Saints date back to the late 1800s and the stories you’ll find inside the museum include names like Charles Comiskey, Babe Ruth, Roy Campanella, Kevin Millar and Darryl Strawberry. Visit St. Paul on an Upper Mississippi River cruise.

Babe Ruth Homeplace Museum

Baltimore, Maryland

The harbor area row house where “The Babe” was born, was once a rough section of the city back In 1895.  George Herman Ruth was the son of a German saloon keeper. Inside you learn about the boy who grew up to be arguably the most famous baseball player in American history. His rotund figure and larger-than-life personality made him memorable even off the field. Visit Baltimore on a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay

Jackie Robinson Museum

New York City

This museum honors #42 – the man who broke barriers on more than the baseball front. In 1947 he was the first African American to play in the Majors. He was the first African American to be an officer on the board of a major corporation. He was an advisor to top politicians. Beyond his skills on the baseball diamond, he was a man worthy of praise and honor. Inside you’ll find original contracts, documents, and fan letters. Hank Aaron said it best when he said “Jackie’s character was much more important than his batting average.”  Stop by the museum on a cruise visiting New York City.

Baseball Heritage Museum

Cleveland, Ohio

“To better understand America, study baseball.”

The Baseball Heritage Museum is located at League Park, the original home of Cleveland baseball, in the center of the historic Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the artifacts and stories of baseball’s past with a special focus on diversity in the sport. Cleveland is a history-laden stop on a Great Lakes cruise.

Roberto Clemente Museum

Pittsburgh, Ohio

With one of the largest collections of photographs and objects related to Roberto Clemente, the museum educates visitors not only on his baseball career, but his humanitarian efforts off the field as well. He racked up numerous awards and accolades as a baseball player, but is best known for his humanitarian works, working with children in Puerto Rico, and for eventually losing his life while helping bring aid to the people of Nicaragua following a destructive earthquake in 1972. Call to schedule a tour as the museum is not open for walk-ins.  Visit Pittsburgh on an Ohio River Cruise

Fenway Park Tour

Boston, Massachusetts

There is something about the legendary “Green Monster” of Fenway Park that is a must-see for all lovers of baseball. Hitting a homerun over the massive green wall is every young player’s dream. Tickets to tour the park are easy – multiple tours run daily year-round. Fenway Park is right in the heart of downtown Boston, so equally easy to find. Hear the stories and get a feel for just how massive the Green Monster is!  Catch a game or experience the view from the press box on a tour while visiting Boston on your next cruise.

field of dreams
Field of Dreams

Museums Off-the-Rivers

Baseball Hall of Fame

Cooperstown, New York

The ultimate baseball destination for players and fans alike.

Negro Leagues Hall of Fame

Kansas City, Missouri

Before the majors were integrated, the Negro Leagues thrilled fans and showcased tremendously talented players for years. Their players were deserving of Hall of Fame status and this museum tells their story.

The Mascot Hall of Fame

Whiting, Indiana (on southern edge of Chicago)

This fun and quirky museum is aimed for children or the young-at-heart. Mascots from a variety of sports are showcased in this museum just outside of Chicago.

Little League Museum

Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Grab your sheet of cardboard and wish you were a kid again! Williamsport lives and breathes baseball and the dreams of young players around the world. 

National Ballpark Museum 

Denver, Colorado

One of the finest private baseball collections, the museum is open to visitors in lower downtown Denver. Priding itself on holding one-of-a-kind treasures including those from the original 14 classic ballparks, the quirky and unusual collections include original seats, turnstiles, scoreboards, and architectural elements including windows, and even sections of the Green Monster. Step inside on a self-guided tour, or stop and talk baseball with fellow baseball enthusiasts.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum

Greenville, South Carolina

“His glove was the place where triples go to die.”

One of the greatest batters ever, Joe Jackson was born a natural ballplayer. At age 13 he was playing on a local men’s baseball team, earning the reputation as an all-around great player. Learn how he earned his nickname, and why he was banned from baseball despite him and his teammates being acquitted on all charges of purposely losing the 1919 World Series. His amazing batting records still stand today. Visit the house he lived in, now a museum, moved twice, and part of an expanded development honoring local hero Joe Jackson.

Louisville Slugger Factory
Fenway Park - Photo credit Evan Woolcott
Mr. Red Legs - Cincinnati's mascot. Photo by Lee Burchfield