October 28, 2009
The battle over (New Jersey) baseball’s championship trophy starts tonight as the New York Yankees host the Philadelphia Phillies in game one of the World Series. At the Smithsonian, however, it is baseball season year-round. In the collections of the National Museum of American History, curators have obtained various items relating to the October (this year, the November) Classic. A sampling of the historic objects:
- Official programs from the 1919, 1952 and 1979 World Series
- Gameday ticket from the Colored World Series of 1934 that included squads from the Philadelphia Stars, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Black Yankees, and the Chicago Giants
- Parking certificate from Memorial Stadium in Baltimore from the 1979 World Series between the Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates
- A scorecard from a game from the 1951 series, decorated by small vignettes of baseball scenes in each of the four corners of the card.
- The actual third base used in the 2007 World Series, along with the jersey worn by Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.
These items, and other sports-related memorabilia, came to the museum either from staff who were serendipitously attending games or from donations. The Red Sox objects, for instance, came from the team itself. But a diehard baseball fanatic would notice one strange thing about this collection. Who won the 1952 World Series? The New York Yankees. What about 1951? The Yankees. Also in the collection, a pennant for the Yankees.
Does the Smithsonian have a pro-Yankee bias?
Not if Jane Rogers, American History’s associate curator for the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment has anything to say about it. Her husband is a Orioles fan, so rooting for the Yankees is out of the question for her. Her sports allegiances are more tied to the Washington Redskins, but for the sake of her dignity, it’s probably best to pretend that isn’t the case this season.
None of the World Series items are currently on display, but if you have a hankering for some museum-style baseball, go to the American Art Museum’s “1934: A New Deal for Artists” and view Morris Kantor’s “Baseball at Night,” also seen above.
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