The Syracuse Baseball Hall of Fame is easy to find.

All roads lead to NBT Bank Stadium, and the greatest collection of memorabilia  representing professional baseball in Central New York.  Whether you're coming onto Hiawatha Boulevard, either from I-80, 690, or the New York State Thruway, the ballpark is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.  Aside from taking in a quality game at the Triple-A level, just one notch under Major League Baseball, there's another gem to soak up  - down the right field line.

If you're walking into the stadium from the main gate, once on the concourse, head right, and keep walking past the Metropolitan Club.  Once past the Club, hang a right, go down the ramp, and there it is, on your right.  The sign on the door says it all - Syracuse Baseball Hall of Fame.  If you prefer - you could enter the stadium through the new entrance, from the parking lot, on the right field side.

But, come you should.

What a gem the Mets and architects EwingCole created.

All your Syracuse baseball memories of the Chiefs, SkyChiefs, and the great players and contributors to the spirit of professional baseball in the city are wonderfully collected for your pleasure.

And, there is no extra cost to visit the museum, once you're in the stadium.

Included in the $25 million renovation of the stadium, the Mets and their local leadership led by Syracuse general manager Jason Smorol made sure those who came before the current Mets isn't forgotten.

"When the Mets sat down with the design team, they wanted to make sure to highlight the rich history of professional baseball in Syracuse.  It was always tucked away in the front office and not really accessible to the fans," Smorol said earlier this week.

There are signed jerseys, balls ,bats, photographs, and many other keepsakes that will bring back memories of visits to the stadium, which opened in April 1997. If you're old enough to have sat in the stands at NBT Bank Stadium's predecessor MacArthur Stadium which opened in 1934, the Mets made sure your baseball childhood is well represented, too.

The grand slam of Syracuse baseball history on display at the Hall of Fame museum is the plaque room.  Once inside, take your time, checking out all the greats whose career came through Syracuse. Memories will come rushing back.  Included among the inductees is Thurman Munson (Class of 2005), Bobby Cox (Class of 2008), Ed Kranepool (Class of 2019), Chad Mottola (Class of 2016), and this season Jason Grilli is set to be inducted.

Smorol, and Mets' Michael Tricarico, are the unofficial curators of the museum.

"Michael and I placed all the plaques and items in the cases. We have so much stuff. We will rotate the items in the cases as time goes by and create special "exhibits" for special weekends," says Smorol, who in 2013 was hired as general manager of Syracuse's Triple-A team.

The current class of the Syracuse baseball Hall of Fame will be in the display cases until the new class is inducted. Then they will go on the wall up on the cross aisle above the Hall of Fame.

Smorol is fortunate to have super Syracuse baseball fans Marty Nave, Jeffery Morey, and Dave Smolnicki involved with the Hall of Fame. From 5:00-6:30 PM prior to night games (and they are available before afternoon games, as well), these season ticket holders make themselves available for visitors.

"They (Nave, Morey, and Smolnicki)  are long time fans and love the team.  Having them there is great as they can engage with the fans."

Once inside the Hall of Fame , there's no guesswork as to where the plaques are displayed. All you need to see is the bust of Tex Simone, the "Father of Syracuse Baseball", and you are have reached your destination..

The Hall of Fame , as word spreads, should quickly become a stop for not only the local fans attending a Mets game or two, but those who have relocated from the region and will want to return to their roots for a look-see, as well.

The very reason baseball fans from around the globe trek to Cooperstown to rekindle meaningful memories in their lives connected to the game. The same is sure to come for fans of all ages at One Tex Simone Drive.  The innocence remembered of having a hot dog, being selected as a participant in one of the many contests taking place between innings , or getting an autograph before "Play Ball" is announced, who doesn't want to go back to a simpler time?

Smorol is quick to point out that professional baseball has been around in some way, shape, or form since 1876, and the history of  baseball in the Salt City goes back to 1845.  Among the MLB clubs that Syracuse has been affiliated with in years past is the Yankees, Tigers, Blue Jays, Nationals, and Senators.

"I'm so happy the Mets have committed to promoting the tradition of our community as we build towards the future. I hope lots of people come to see this space,"  Smorol tells.

Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley.  He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

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