A traveling collection of
Detroit is the 10th stop for the exhibit which began touring in New York in 2002. The Baseball as America display features over 500 artifacts from the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Detroit stop was to be the final stop on the tour, but Jane Forbes Clark (chairman of the board of the hall) said that there may be 4 additional cities that will receive the exhibit.
As for the exhibit itself, I think it is safe to say that it ranks as a must see for baseball fans. A couple of the highlights include:
And that doesn’t even include the Tiger specific artifacts. Among the Tiger exhibits the highlights include:
I was hoping that they would have Lou Whitaker’s hand made All Star game jersey, but I guess I’ll have to travel to Cooperstown to see that. Even without the Whitaker jersey, the display is incredible.
Now it takes a pretty special group of individuals to make a journey through 500 baseball artifacts not be the highlight of my day. As a long time fan, I was beside myself while I stood beside the likes of Sparky, George, and Al.
Sparky was a bundle of energy as he literally sprung onto the stage. In typical Sparky form, he had everyone around him laughing. Unfortunately, he was such a good host I couldn’t worm my way in well enough to hear much of the conversation. Even from a distance though, it is safe to say that engaging and dynamic would be adjectives worthy of Sparky. I thought I was going to finally have a shot to talk to Sparky, but just as my turn came up he was whisked over to speak with Fox Sports Net.
I spent the bulk of my time hanging around George Kell. At least I can take comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one. Kell was gracious and friendly, and quite frankly I would have been content to listen to him talk about whatever he wanted. After hearing his voice, it took me right back to my childhood and it seemed that at any minute he would break out “and they’re gonna wave him in!”
Having George Kell stand in front of a display about baseball broadcasting and describe the artifacts and the announcers they belonged to was a surreal experience to say the least. My recorder didn’t pick up much, but some of Kell’s comments included:
With Kaline, like Sparky I had waited my turn only to lose out to Fox Sports again. Like Kell he was reluctant to pass judgement on Barry Bonds. He also mentioned that he was instrumental in bringing Alan Trammell in as manager in 2002.
I did manage to get in one question with Kaline. I asked him what him about how special induction weekend is each year:
It’s great to go back to Cooperstown and see former players who are in the Hall of Fame, and help honor the guys that are going in now and their families.
One of the reasons I like going back is because you never know when it is going to be the last time you see some of these people, like Kirby Puckett. I always have great memories of Kirby in Cooperstown. We used to go downstairs to the lounge, and he’d grab a microphone and start singing, and we’d all start singing along with him. He was a great jolly guy to be around, and he loved the game of baseball.
It’s always a great honor to go back.
For a fan like myself, it was a tremendous experience to be standing amongst Hall of Fame artifacts and Hall of Famers. While George, Sparky, and Al have left, the display hasn’t. It opens to the public on March 11th and will remain open until September 5th. There are a number of special events, including giveaways and autograph days. The exhibit is included in the price of museum admission.