National Baseball Hall of Fame’s App Pings You With Location-Based Facts

76-year-old museum tests mobile check-ins

With Major League Baseball season less than a week away, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is tapping into sports fans' addiction to their smartphones this year.

Today, the Hall of Fame is launching a mobile app dubbed The Beacon that gives users a virtual tour of the museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Created with agency Sullivan, the app uses location to serve up baseball facts through Foursquare-style check-ins. For example, someone who checks in near the former grounds of Brooklyn's Ebbets Field will get information about Jackie Robinson's historic MLB debut in 1947.

"The Beacon aims to bring the rich national history of baseball to fans locally and ultimately inspire a trip to the institution in Cooperstown and its surrounding area," said Alison Grippo, Sullivan's principal of digital strategy.

The app only includes facts for the Northeast right now, but the idea is to add content specific to other parts of the country, too. For example, app users in California will eventually learn about Masanori Murakami becoming the first Japanese major league player for the San Francisco Giants in 1964.

The app also uses GPS and location to drive people to the museum. A road trip feature lets people complete tasks to earn points that can be redeemed for discounts at the museum. Once someone checks in to every spot on a road trip, he or she receives a virtual pennant.

The road-trip feature links to Apple's Maps app, which gives directions to some of baseball's biggest landmarks—like the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad that opened in 1869 to shuttle folks around Cooperstown.

The new app builds on the Baseball Hall of Fame's digital channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The organization has more than 90,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, and over 117,000 Facebook "likes."