Camp Family Gives History Back to Cooperstown
Corey Camp and his family are taking a trip to Cooperstown in May to share a piece of history that has been in their home since the mid-1960's.
The Camp's own Vern Bickford's old Milwaukee Braves hat from his days of pitching in the Big Leagues from 1948 to 1954.
Corey received Bickford's hat from his father. His father was given the hat by his brother. Since then, Corey has kept the hat in his family.
"We thought it was an authentic cap, but it was something we kept in our trunk in the garage. We would pull it out from time to time as we moved that trunk or from state to state. It wasn't until about 10-15 years ago that we started looking into whose cap it was, and with the Internet, it became a lot easier. We knew in the inside that it was embroidered with Bickford, and the No. 24. However, because it wasn't a current team, we had to figure out whose cap it was," adds Corey.
Corey, his wife, Tara, and two kids, Cayden (10), and Kyah (8) have embraced the cap, and are beginning to educate themselves about Bickford's baseball career in preparation for their trip to Cooperstown.
Bickford was a right-handed pitcher, and played professional baseball for three teams (Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves, and Baltimore Orioles). While with the Braves, he formed a formidable trio with Warren Spahn, and Johnny Sain. He was 66-56 with 3.69 ERA and struck out 450 batters in six seasons for the Braves in the National League. Over his career in Boston, and Milwaukee, he logged over a thousand innings, and a had a remarkable 73 complete games and nine shutouts.
Bickford's two best seasons occurred in 1949, and 1950. In 1949, he was an All-Star, and had a 16-11 record with a 4.25 ERA. In that year, he lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning of a game. The next year, Bickford was able to breakthrough and pitch a no-hitter on August 11 against the Brooklyn Dodgers in a 7-0 contest. In that year, the right-hander was 19-14 with a 3.47 ERA, and led MLB with 27 complete games.
In his only year in the American League, Bickford was 0-1 in one game started with a 9.00 ERA. The following year, he was out of baseball due to an elbow injury in 1954, and a comeback fell short in the International League in 1955. After retiring, he had some odd jobs, working as a automobile dealer and traveling salesman. Five years later, he died in 1960 because of stomach cancer.
Bickford's history was intriguing to the Camp's, and they wanted to give back to Cooperstown where many of baseball's all-time greats reside. To bring the cap back to the Hall of Fame, Corey began by calling the Atlanta Braves, but he couldn't find any information about who Bickford's family was. Luckily, he had some friends who worked in the league, and was able to get in touch with the Baseball Hall of Fame if indeed they wanted Bickford's hat.
"Prior to living in SF, my wife and I worked for Nike out at the world headquarters. I worked in a team sports division and part of my job responsibilities was working with Major League teams and colleges. So, through that, I made some friends that worked for the MLB. A couple years after, I contacted one of my friends there and asked if he had knew anybody at Cooperstown. Then, I was put in touch with Cooperstown, and asked if that was something they would like? They asked me to send pictures, and how we came about and how we could authenticate it. Once we did that, they said they would like to have it as part of their collection."
When Cooperstown told the Camp's they would like Bickford's hat, their family started preparing for a once in a lifetime trip to baseball's hallowed destination. As a baseball fan, himself, it didn't take much for Corey to get excited. His job was to help engage his two kids and get them ready for the trip. So, to help with the effort, Corey helped Cayden and Kyah start a blog to to learn more about the cap, Cooperstown, and New York City.
"Bickford isn't a household name, but his history is pretty interesting, and so, one of the things when we thought to make this trip, was for the kids to not only get introduced to the technology side of things, to social media, and blogs, but to give them education about who this guy is and to the cap. They both designed a blog from scratch, and have been challenging them to create their own content about what they want to write, mostly geared toward this trip. They write what they know, or what they are looking forward to, and are excited to see in New York City," says Corey.
Cayden named his blog, "Cayden to Cooperstown," and he tells me what he is writing about, and what he is looking forward to when he gets to go to New York City, and Cooperstown.
"I'm most looking forward to going to the Hall of Fame, and going to a Yankees-Twins game at Yankee Stadium."
Kyah's blog is entitled, "Kyah to Cooperstown," and shares with me that she cannot wait to go on vacation with her family, too.
"First, I learned a little bit about the cap, and what we are going to do with it when we bring it to the Hall of Fame. I also wrote about what I want to see in New York City and am looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty."
Cayden loves baseball trading cards, and Kyah really enjoys the food, along with the mascots, and the dancing and singing at games (Cagey, and the dugout divas at Sioux Falls Canaries games).
Corey, and his wife Tara have always been around baseball. Corey is a chaplain for the Canaries of the American Association. (He's also serves in the same role for the Sioux Falls Stampede, a member of the United States Hockey League). As a kid, Corey grew up a Mariners fan, and his grandpa was a chaplain for a Class A ball affiliate in Central Wisconsin. Now, he enjoys the sights and sounds of the game, and is embracing the sport as our country's national pastime.
Tara loves sitting outside and watching baseball. She grew up in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and it was always a big deal to go up to Minnesota Twins games as a kid.
As a family, they recognized the chance to give Bickford's cap to the Hall of Fame in person as a great opportunity to continue to show their passion for the game of baseball.
"We decided we could have shipped it off, but since we have kids at eight and ten, we thought it would be a once in a lifetime experience to take it to the Hall of Fame, and present it in person. We have never been to either New York City, or to the Hall of Fame, and thought it would be neat to make that trip and experience this," responds Corey.
The Camp's will be going to Cooperstown after Cayden and Kyah get out of school in May, and to keep up with their experiences, be sure to follow their children's blogs!