Baseball in Palm Beach County — from the Little Leagues to the Major Leagues — will be the topic of an upcoming exhibit at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum.
Tentative plans call for the exhibition to open in September 2016 and run through June 2017 — to coincide with the opening of the new spring training complex that will be shared by the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals south of 45th Street.
Work on the baseball facility, scheduled to open in January 2017, is scheduled to start sometime in October. But work on the museum’s baseball exhibition already has started — and the museum wants your help.
Curators are asking local residents to help guide and inspire the development of the exhibit by offering their own stories and loaning personal mementoes about the history baseball in and around West Palm Beach — from the games played on “baseball grounds” of Palm Beach by Henry Flagler’s workers, to Negro Leagues, to Little Leagues and, of course, Major League Baseball spring training.
If you’d like to help, call curator Debi Murray at 561-832-4164 ext. 105 or email her at Dmurray@historicalsocietypbc.org.
Home movies, programs, ticket stubs, baseballs caught as souvenirs from home runs and foul balls, even your own version of the famous 1952 photo of baseball legend Connie Mack and 9-year-old Robert Corbitt — the museum wants it all.
Maybe you posed with Hank Aaron one day in the late 1960s before a Braves game at old West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium off Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, which opened in 1962 and is now a Home Depot store after the Braves and Expos left following the 1997 spring season.
Did your dad shoot home movies of pitchers Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson warming up in the early days of their Hall of Fame careers?
Maybe somewhere at your grandfather’s house there’s a ticket stub from March 31, 1927, when Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees lost to the Cincinnati Reds at Wright Field, which would be renamed Connie Mack Field before being razed for the site’s current occupant – a parking garage next to the Kravis Center for the Performing for Arts.
Maybe your grandfather and his friends saw Ruth in street clothes later that day downtown. Under the headline that day in the Palm Beach Times, “Yankees invade West Palm Beach to battle Reds”, a story suggests that players on both teams planned to attend a wrestling match on Clematis Street: “Babe Ruth may referee.’’
Or maybe you have a program from the first game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter on Feb. 28, 1998 — when Mark McGwire christened the new spring training complex with a home run. McGwire would go on to hit 73 home runs, break the old single-seasons record of 61 held since 1961 by Roger Maris, who broke the previous record of 60 held since 1927 by Ruth.
Even if you don’t have artifacts, the museum would still like to hear your stories – from Negro Leagues to the 2003 Little League World Series team from Boynton Beach.
Curators also want to hear from retired baseball players living in the area. Palm Beach’s Jim Palmer, Jupiter’s Mike Schmidt and Palm Beach Gardens’ Tommy Hutton, this means you!