The American Pastime all begins at Cooperstown with baseball trading pins.

Cooperstown, New York, is the place to play in tournaments. It’s the last stop in an entire season of baseball games.

I remember when Cooperstown was a one-horse town, said a Monterey Company salesperson. It was a great place to go for tournaments. But we’re talking 30 years ago.

Today, Cooperstown is big business. They have their own website, Teams have been readying for their tournaments all season. One customer even put Cooperstown on his team’s trading pin. It depicted the United States with several stops along the way, including Omaha, Nebraska, where the team will play in the World Series, and Cooperstown, NY, the final destination. The banner across the top of the 2 1/2-inch orange, blue and white pin read: Road to Cooperstown.

It’s really a big deal to get invited to play in Cooperstown, said that customer. Not only did his team’s pin have the map and stops, but also it showed an airplane slider with all of the player’s names in the plane’s windows. You have to look closely to see them, but they’re there, he said.

The 7/8 inch plane slider is unique for trading pins. Most teams use a baseball, a player or their team’s mascot to slide across the pin. The airplane was quite unique, but doable, said Paul Stark, president of The Monterey Company. We had a special attachment in the back to ensure that the plane wouldn’t spin upside down.

This pin is one among many that will be traded at Cooperstown this year. After the opening ceremonies, players from all the teams gather together to trade for other teams pins. The bigger, flashier and the unique the better, added one customer. That means blinkies, sliders, spinners, danglers, and glitter will enhance your ability to trade. Another customer said her players got three trading pins for one blinkie last year.

Once the players have traded pins, and then they place them on special towels to display them. The trading continues throughout the week-long tournament. Other players have special bags with handles that look like soft briefcases. They unfold to show several sleeves that display and hold the trading pins. The sleeves are made of a material, so the player can attach the pins to the outside for displaying, or zip them inside for storage.

Salespeople at The Monterey Company have heard many stories about trading pins at Cooperstown. We had a small pin last year and no one wanted to trade with our players, lamented one customer. That’s not going to happen this year. We’re getting a 2-inch pin with a spinner!

Some customers even scan photos of the most trade-able pin at Cooperstown and want to replicate it. What are popular changes every year added one Monterey Company salesperson. Blinkies could be popular this year, but spinners will be popular next year. You just never know!

One of her customers had everything on his teams trading pin this year, including a 2-¼ inch size, a blinkie, a spinner, a dangler, and lots of glitter. You only get one chance to go to Cooperstown! he said.

Another customer said that his uncle still keeps his pin collection from Cooperstown 20 years ago. He won’t trade with me, and he has some really cool pins, he said.