Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Back At The National Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum
Three years ago, we last visited baseball's shrine to the greatest game. A trip that first introduced us to the inner workings of this beloved museum. We wanted to and needed to go back. So last week, after returning from our latest assignments--off we drove the entire distance. The seven hour drive from Alexandria, Virginia to upper state New York. 61 degrees when we left the Washington, D.C. area--14 degrees and snowing our first night next to Ostego Lake. (And by way--we crossed through a 50-mile thick fog covering I-81 through the mountain before and after Hazelton, Pennsylvania that will not soon be forgotten. Every car and truck travelling the 60 MPH speed limit the entire way--despite the fact visibility was less than two car lengths. Truly, it doesn't get much scarier than that)
But we digress.
Yes, Old Man Winter might still be holding on for its last bated breaths, but baseball was still in the air. The rites of spring were upon us. Sohna and I could not have been happier.
A thrill like no other for any baseball fan.
"But now we can go back, find that letter, and figure out it was thrown by this pitcher. It’s the last ball or the first ball or a ball that was just a foul ball that the donator caught at the World Series. What game. What date. This is how I got it. The entire provenance of these pieces are exploding for us. It’s getting incredibly richer. And it’s one of those thing where, thankfully, people weren’t throwing things away back in the olden days. They instead were throwing things in a shoe box and putting them in a closet."
"Okay. We now know this Spalding bat is from the 1914 World Series. Now, it’s not just a Maranville model bat, the style that he used during his playing time and maybe it’s got his name on it. And maybe not one he used. But now it’s a World Series used bat by a Hall Of Famer from a miracle comeback team that was in last place in August, came back to win The National League and, eventually, The World Series. There’s a history now that adds to the story. And that is because of Ted Spencer’s diligent work looking through all those letters separated from the thousands of donations a long, long time ago."
"That's one story that I know of right now. But I’ve seen the stack he's working on and it’s getting bigger and bigger."
But matching an artifact with a more complete history is not the only issue staff at The Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum is working through--funding the cost of operations is difficult as well. "That also puts us into a tough position since The Hall does not pay for memorabilia," says Mr. Odell. "So it's very difficult right now, but we have to make it work.”
"Hank Aaron is doing that. A couple of other ballplayers have joined him as well. 'Yeah, I will do that.'—like Brooks Robinson.
John Odell: "There is an off-site storage area where we store long rows of seats from stadiums—for example. The very large items. We have an old (Iron Mike) pitching machine there too. The odd ball types of things that sometimes have been on exhibit, but when they come off—we don’t have anywhere to put them here (at the museum). So the next time we need it, we then go and bring it back for display.But we are always running out of space. Wherever we go, we are always running out of space."
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