By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – There’s only one place in the world where you can hang out with Ty Cobb, Derek Jeter, Shoeless Joe, Abbott and Costello and Marilyn Monroe.
The Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, 99 Main St.
“We are the only baseball-themed wax museum in the world,” owner Perry Ferrara declares.
The museum opened in 1994, the brainchild of Ferrara’s friend Kevin Burch.
“We started with 15,” said the downtown entrepreneur. “But now we have more than 50, and we’ve got 15 more coming, including the cast of ‘The Sandlot’ – including the dog, Hercules!”
The figures are made in China from plaster casts, with glass eyes and real human hair – touched up at the museum by Flawless on Main – to give them a realistic look. “They do really good work,” he said.
He orders the head and hands, then uses mannequin bodies to better pose the figures – including Ozzie Smith mid-backflip and Ty Cobb sliding, sharpened cleats first – into home. “That one’s my favorite,” he said. “It’s so dynamic.”
Many professional players make an effort to stop in and say hi to their likeness. “Ricky Henderson was here, and he dug it,” said Ferrara.
Others, however, are a little more critical of their wax likeness. “Pete Rose and I have been friends for years, and I’ve had four statues of him made, but they could just never get him right,” he said. “I finally got one I liked and I asked Pete to come see it. He walked in and he said, ‘Who the hell is that?’”
But it’s not just the stars who were enshrined in the museum. “There’s a figure of my daughter Catherine in the ticket booth,” he said. “You have no idea how many times people try to talk to her!”
And there’s one of his son, Anthony in the outfield with Joe Torre and Don Zimmer in the dugout. “When we got the figure of my son, we opened the box and it looked just like him!” he said. “It was a little creepy to see him looking up at us.”
Perry’s wife Cathy’s grandmother’s mink stole graces Marilyn Monroe’s shoulders as she descends the staircase with Joe DiMaggio. The law books in the office of a wax Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis – the commissioner who banned Shoeless Joe from baseball – were in the building when he bought it.
And some of the props even have ties to the game: The police officer’s uniform in the scene of Wade Boggs on the back of a police horse – a famous incident after the Yankees won the World Series in 1996 – belonged to the actual police officer who rode around the field with him.
“It belonged to my friend’s girlfriend’s father,” he said. “He was that cop!”
In addition to the stars of baseball and film – “Seinfeld’s” George Costanza, Abbott and Costello, “A League of their Own” stars Madonna, Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, and “Field of Dreams” star Kevin Costner all have their own figures – several great moments of the game are immortalized.
“There’s that famous picture of Jackie Robinson (entering the Dodger’s club house even with the “Keep Out” warning) and we duplicated that here,” Perry said.
He also has a diorama dedicated to tallest player – Randy Johnson, 6-foot-10 – and the smallest player, Edward Carl Gaedel.
Occasionally, people throw money into the dioramas, and at the end of the summer, Ferrara gathers it all up and donates it to a local charity.
The Heroes of Baseball is one of the few remaining independently owned wax museums in the world, and has been featured on several roadside attractions list, including Roadtrippers.com
“I’ve thought about doing a haunted house at Halloween,” Ferrara said. “When I come up here at night, it can get a little spooky.”