Friday, April 27, 2007
Updated: May 10, 4:28 PM ET
Baseball Museums: Nos. 6-10
By Josh Pahigian
Special to ESPN SportsTravel
• Travel Ten photo gallery: Baseball museums
6. Ty Cobb Museum
461 Cook St.
Although he is widely remembered as a miserable lout, Ty Cobb also was one of baseball's first great philanthropists. After making far more money through his investments in Coca-Cola stock than he ever made as a player, Cobb donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a scholarship fund for Georgia students and to build a hospital in his hometown of Royston, Ga.
Today, the Cobb Museum, located on the campus of the hospital that bears Cobb's name, remembers the life of this complex figure. Favorite artifacts include a set of Cobb's dentures, his Shriners fez, his childhood Bible, one of his hunting rifles and the medallion he was awarded in 1907 for winning the first of what would be nine consecutive batting titles.
7. Ted Williams Museum & Hitters Hall of Fame
Located at Tropicana Field
One Tropicana Drive
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Web site | Tampa City Guide
The pet project of Ted Williams during his later years, his museum relocated in early 2007 from Hernando, Fla., to new digs inside Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Boston Globe columnist and Red Sox historian Dan Shaughnessy maintains this is one of the most underrated baseball museums. "We're still hoping that someday it'll be in Boston, at Fenway, where it belongs," he said, "but even in a Florida dome it's a nice walk through the life and times of the greatest hitter who ever lived."
The museum displays such items as Ted's first pro contract to play for the Minneapolis Millers, a trophy mount of a 150-pound tarpon he caught in the Florida Keys, his golf clubs and pictures of him in World War II flight gear.
The centerpiece of the facility is the Hitters Hall of Fame, which celebrates the accomplishments of the 20 hitters Williams deemed the best ever, as well as more than 50 other batters who have been subsequently inducted.
8. Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
1152 Lakeland Drive
800-280-3263 or 601-982-8264
This Magnolia State museum houses the largest collection of Dizzy Dean memorabilia in the world, thanks to a donation made by Dean's widow. Items on display include his 1934 World Series and Hall of Fame rings, as well as personal photos of him with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Satchel Paige and others friends and acquaintances.
There are baseballs signed by Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young and other Dean pals. Video footage showcases "Ole Diz" sitting in a rocking chair and singing "The Wabash Cannonball" and Dean behind the mike during his later years as a broadcaster.
The museum also honors Cool Papa Bell, the fleet-footed Negro Leagues star who became the first Mississippi-born player to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1974.
9. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
1616 E. 18th St.
Kansas City, Mo.
816-221-1920 or 816-221-1920
Web site | Kansas City Guide
The Negro Leagues Museum offers an artifact-laden time line that begins with baseball's early years, following the Civil War. Then examined are the experiences of a largely unknown cast of African-American pioneers that integrated baseball at the semi-pro, college, and professional levels in the 1880s and 1890s.
Next is an exhibit related to the "gentlemen's agreement" that banned blacks from the Major League at the turn of the last century. Also chronicled are the barnstorming teams of black stars that formed thereafter.
The next section relates how the Negro National League was founded in Kansas City in 1920; how night baseball debuted in the Negro Leagues in the 1930s; how the Negro Leagues experienced a renaissance during the Great Depression; how Satchel Paige became the most famous Negro Leaguer of all; and how the Negro Leagues dissolved after the integration of Major League Baseball.
The tour ends at the Field of Legends, where a dozen life-size statues portray the best Negro Leaguers: Paige, Rube Foster, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Pop Lloyd, Judy Johnson, Ray Dandridge, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo and Buck O'Neil.
10. St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum
111 Stadium Plaza
St. Louis, Mo.
Web site | St. Louis City Guide
Located across the street from the old Busch Stadium site, the Cardinals Hall of Fame offers an array of artifacts related to the second-most successful franchise in baseball history.
Exhibits include: models of Sportsman's Park and Busch Stadium; stadium chairs and lockers from the old parks; the red 1962 Corvette the Cardinals presented Mark McGwire after he hit his 62nd home run in 1998; Bob Gibson's shower sandals; the filthy hat reliever Steve Kline wore in 2001, when he set a team record by pitching in 89 games; and the Cardinals' World Championship trophies from 1967 and 1982.
Don't expect to find the Red Birds' most recent crown on display, quite yet. Their 2006 World Series trophy will be featured at the Missouri History Museum before it is to be permanently installed at the Cardinals Hall, according to curator Paula Homan said.
• Travel Ten Museums Nos. 1 to 5
• Travel Ten photo gallery: Baseball museums
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