image from the St. Louis Cardinals Museum (Brian Walton photo)
On a recent winter day that was cold and miserable outside, I had the warm and welcoming pleasure of spending a leisurely afternoon touring the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. As I have been there a number of times over the years, my primary focus was the newest exhibit, “Pain, Protection and Performance: The Evolution of Baseball Equipment”.
Let’s start with the story.
St. Louis Cardinals press release, December 13, 2018
The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will open its new special exhibit entitled “Pain, Protection and Performance: The Evolution of Baseball Equipment presented by Rawlings” on Friday, December 14. The exhibit, which replaces last year’s special exhibition “Goodwill through Baseball: Cardinals Across the Pacific,” examines the role of equipment in the National Pastime and shows how various pieces of gear have changed since the birth of the sport in the 1800s.
“This special exhibit includes some fantastic and peculiar items from our collection, in addition to several important pieces on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and other collectors,” said Paula Homan, Cardinals Museum Curator. “It’s really remarkable to see how far the equipment has progressed as players seek to improve their performance and safety.”
“Pain, Protection and Performance” features over 100 artifacts relating to the history of baseball equipment, including an original fingerless glove from 1883; Stan Musial’s trapper-style mitt that helped him easily transition between first base and the outfield during the late 1940s; one of the original fiberglass prototype batting helmets that inspired Branch Rickey to introduce them for major league use in the 1950s; the cupped-end bat Lou Brock used to notch his 3,000th career hit; and the cleats that Fernando Tatis wore when he hit a MLB record two grand slams in one inning.
The exhibit also includes a display of authentic Rawlings Gold Glove® and Platinum Glove® Awards along with an interactive kiosk where guests can create and order their very own custom Rawlings glove. Guests can enjoy in-depth features on players and gear through the use of augmented reality via the MLB Ballpark App along with a unique spinning tile interactive that highlights key points throughout the experience.
The Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the offseason. The special exhibit will be open to the public through the conclusion of the 2019 baseball season and is included with admission to the museum. To purchase Cardinals Museum tickets or learn more about museum membership, visit cardinals.com/museum.
So there you have it.
As many know, in the vestibule outside the museum entrance reside the plaques for all 40 current members of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. Here are the newest ones, celebrating the trio of 2018 inductees.
Once inside, you may spend an hour or more viewing ongoing exhibits before reaching the new section, located in the right rear of the museum. Two of the three largest cases of the new exhibit cover helmets and spikes. You can correctly assume that Lou Brock is among those whose gear is prominently featured.
The subject of the third large case is gloves. Fourth from the left in the top row is the Bill Doak model, famed for being the first with webbing, which in this case was two thin leather laces. At the right, visitors can try on a Doak replica (the light one on the left).
Further to the left of the three main cases is another case featuring catching gear as is a smaller one highlighting the evolution of bats. As Brock said, “Your bat is your life. It’s your weapon. You don’t want to go into battle with anything that feels less than perfect.”
In the prior image, you may have noticed trophies at the far left. Perhaps it is a reconstruction of Yadier Molina’s home. Strike that. There weren’t enough Gold Glove Awards.
In my second pass through the exhibit, I joined Bill DeWitt Jr. and Bill DeWitt III, who like me had remained behind following the Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Committee meeting earlier that day. It was a fun, informal conversation about a game we all love. In tribute to the senior DeWitt, I snapped a new photo of his old Browns batboy uniform, made famous by Eddie Gaedel in 1951. (This is on semi-permanent display, not a part of the new exhibit.)
As long as I am opening up, I will close with the admission that since I was alone in my final walk through (except for a museum worker), I did something I have always wanted to do, but never did. I stopped, took a right turn and pulled Stan Musial’s bat from the interactive display case. I closed my eyes, pretended I was in a different place and time and mimicked his signature corkscrew left-handed swing with his old lumber clutched in my hands.
Isn’t feeling young again, even if you’re not, what it’s all about?
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