NEW YORK -- Shoeless Joe Jackson's shoes, Babe Ruth's bat,
and Jackie Robinson's jersey are about to take a road trip.
For the first time, the baseball Hall of Fame is taking a major
exhibition beyond its home in Cooperstown, N.Y. About 500 artifacts
will go on a four-year, 10-city tour, starting in March at the
American Museum of Natural History.
"I grew up in California and never got a chance to go as a
kid," Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan said Thursday. "You
can't write about the history of this country without baseball. And
now, a lot more people will get to see important pieces of the
Morgan, Mike Schmidt and Larry Doby were among seven Hall of
Fame members at the American Museum of Natural History to announce
plans for the "Baseball as America" tour. The cornerstone from
Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and a row of seats from the Polo Grounds
were unveiled, and will be on display starting Friday.
"Baseball is so essentially America," said Ellen Futter,
president of the museum. "It is a microcosm of American culture,
so a linkage makes sense."
The exhibits represent about 1 percent of the Hall's artifacts.
The traveling collection takes up 5,500 square feet, about the size
of the plaque gallery in Cooperstown, a village tucked away in
upstate New York.
"Cooperstown is a magical place, but it's also a difficult
place to get to," Hall president Dale Petroskey said. "We want to
tell the story of the game, and take it around the country."
Among other exhibits making the rounds: the Doubleday baseball,
supposedly used in the first game in 1839; a ball from Don Larsen's
perfect game in the 1956 World Series; the bat Roger Maris used to
hit his 61st home run; and a 1908 recording by Thomas Edison of
"Casey at the Bat."
In the past, the Hall has let its artifacts be shown out of
town, such as at Grand Central Terminal in New York, but never more
than a few pieces at a time.
Petroskey said a projected 4-to-5 million people would see the
exhibition, possibly making it more popular than the King Tut, Van
Gogh and Monet collections that toured in recent years.
After leaving New York, the baseball collection will go to Los
Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Fla., Washington,
D.C., and St. Louis. Three other sites will be announced.
Hall of Famers George Brett, Lou Brock, Carlton Fisk and Orlando
Cepeda were part of the ceremonies, as was Yankee Stadium
public-address announcer Bob Sheppard and the ballpark's organist,
Eddie Layton. A current player, Mark Johnson of the Mets, also
"Cooperstown is a very, very good place, and I'm glad that a
lot more fans will get to see what they have there," Brett said.
While a sizable Cooperstown contingent was in New York, a
well-known New Yorker was expected to be at the Hall on Thursday.
Yankees reserve Luis Sojo, who got the ninth-inning single in
Game 5 that clinched the 2000 World Series, had planned to visit
the Hall in the afternoon with his family. The bat Sojo used for
his big hit is on display.