Springfield, Massachusetts is the third largest city in the state. The city can boast a few claims to fame. One of the most well loved children's authors of all time, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born there. It is also home to a fabulous art museum, the G.W. Vincent Smith Art Museum and the city has its own major league hockey team, the Springfield Falcons.
But what draws the most visitors to the city of just under 150,000 people is the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The significance of the location of the hall may be lost even to the most diehard basketball fans. Many do not know that Springfield is the place where basketball was born.
The hall is named for Dr. James A. Naismith, the man who invented the game of basketball. Naismith was a coach at Springfield College when he invented the game in 1891 .
Few fans know how the game was invented. Naismith was simply looking for a sport that could be played indoors during the cold Massachusetts winters. The game has changed significantly in the last 107 years, but the primary goal - throwing a ball into tall basket - has remained the same .
The Hall of Fame honors many more contributors to the game besides Naismith. There are 258 individuals who have been honored by their induction into the hall. The year that the hall was established, 1959, there were 15 people inducted. These included players such as Charles D. Hyatt and George Mikan as well as coaches, referees and people who somehow contributed to the game of basketball. The original inductees include Naismith .
While the Hall was established in 1959, there was not an actual building that fans could visit until 1968. Since that time, the Hall of Fame has undergone a major restoration project. In 2002, a $45 million dollar project was completed and a brand new building, located a short distance from the original Hall of Fame, was unveiled. The 80,000 square foot building includes many attractions, including a full-sized basketball court where fans can test out their skills .
While a decidedly American sport, the inventor was Canadian. In addition to the Basketball Hall of fame, Naismith is also honored in Canada. His hometown of Almonte is the site of the Naismith Museum and Hall of Fame. That museum is currently closed for renovations, but the Naismith Foundation, which operated the museum, continues to host annual events to honor the inventor of basketball .