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A Unique Way to the Hall of Fame

National Baseball Hall of Fame

While autographs and photos are ways to connect to some of baseball’s legends, Ralph Carhart has another way to reach Hall of Famers–both living and dead. 

Carhart is traveling with what he calls The Hall Ball. His goal is to have a photo of every living Hall of Famer holding the baseball, while taking images of the baseball at the grave sites–or other locations of significance–of deceased inductees. With 312 total Hall of Famers and more on the way, this has proven to be a tall task, but one on which Carhart is intently focused.

Carhart, who is a New York Mets fan, says he first received the baseball when his wife retrieved it from a creek near Doubleday Field during a trip to Cooperstown in 2010. Since then, he estimates that he has spent $25,000 traveling to various locations both in the United States and abroad, including trips to Cuba.

The effort by Carhart has caught the attention of many in baseball circles, including officials from the Hall of Fame. More from a very interesting feature in The New York Times:

Mr. Carhart, a production manager in the department of drama, theater and dance at Queens College, said that after he completes his mission he hopes the Hall of Fame accepts the ball and his photos as part of its permanent collection.

Mr. Carhart, who lives on Staten Island with his wife, Anna, and their two children, said his goal was to create a link between the generations of the game’s greatest stars

“I’ll never get into the Hall of Fame for my curveball or hitting prowess, so this is my only chance,” he said.

Jon Shestakofsky, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame, said Mr. Carhart’s project “illustrates the seemingly limitless scope of baseball fandom.”

The Hall Ball’s journey serves as a glowing example of the power and pull of baseball, and the respect and reverence associated with the game’s all-time greats,” Mr. Shestakofsky said, though he would not say if the hall would consider Mr. Carhart’s submission.

“He’s trying to make a human connection with the living and a spiritual connection with those who’ve moved on,” said John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball. He added that when it came to 19th-century baseball history, Mr. Carhart was “about as nerdy as they come, which is high praise from me.”

Though public records have been vital to Carhart’s effort in a few cases, websites like Find A Grave have certainly changed the access and knowledge of the locations of resting places for notable figures, including those in sports. Carhart is certainly tapping into that information and going beyond–for Ted Williams, he visited the Alcor Life Extension Foundation lab in Arizona–so if the Hall Ball does eventually reach Cooperstown, it will have an interesting back story.

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