This is a blog I wrote months ago about a trip I took last year. Mom died during the summer, so this one got shelved, but not just because of that. This post got shelved because I thought it was important to properly caption every one of the photos I was going to post from my trip to the National Ballpark Museum.
This post was going to wait until I was able to deal with all five dozen or so photos I’m sharing in this post.
The two things I love most about sports are the uniforms (what we root for) and the stadiums and parks where sports are played. Much churches, sports venues are the architectural centerpieces of America.
Hope you enjoy this one, and if you can, check out the National Ballpark Museum on Facebook (if you can’t visit Bruce in person!). I can’t imagine a museum I would enjoy more except for perhaps the one in Cooperstown.
The baseball pennant race is red hot, and no divisions are hotter right now than the NL Central and West. Colorado is leading the West by 1.5 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers, parent club to our Oklahoma City Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the teams I root for hard, and that goes back to the days of Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey.
But the Rockies are a team I root for, too. Just not right now. There is a pecking order to my bandwagon.
For the record, I am a Texas Rangers fan to the core. Always will be.
But I love sports, and I especially love baseball.
And I was fortunate enough to visit Denver last year and see the Rockies at Coors Field. I was impressed by the city, the stadium, LoDo (lower downtown) and a little museum Kristi and I discovered along the way. She actually discovered the National Ballpark Museum before our trip because she’s good like that, and she knows of my love for baseball architecture.
Denver was adorned this fine weekend by deep blue skies and clean air, cool nights and warm days. I went for a run along some trails near Welton Street, not named for me best that I know, and my only complaint was the periodic smell of marijuana smoke in the air.
Alas, even with dispensaries everywhere, I loved, loved, loved Denver.
Beautiful. Cosmopolitan. Green. Good food, good beer, good people.
Our trip to Coors Field was pretty close to my favorite all-around city+ballpark trip ever.
After pre-gaming at a local sports bar, we visited this ballpark museum, about two or three blocks from the stadium. The National Ballpark Museum is a shrine to ballparks dating to the 1800s, the major leagues and the Negro League. It’s a baseball nerd’s paradise.
And we were lucky enough to get a personal tour from curator Bruce “B” Hellerstein. By personal, I mean it was Kristi and me with Bruce for an hour. The visit might have cost us $10 apiece, maybe $15? Worth every penny and plenty more. (Side note: They are a 501 (c)(3) organization and can accept donations.)
What we were told by the museum host is that Bruce is rarely there, but that when he is, you need to take advantage of his presence and pay attention. Bruce Hellerstein is a walking encyclopedia of baseball history and especially an expert in ballparks. My expertise in ballpark history is pretty novice among experts but expert among novices, if you will.
Bruce is a stud among baseball studs.
My interest in ballpark architecture goes back to childhood, visiting Royals Stadium in 1982 and watching the fountains. Before that, I regularly rooted for the Dodgers in the World Series, and I especially loved the games in Los Angeles as opposed to New York, going back to their battles versus the Yankess in 1977 and 1978. What I’m saying there is that, even as a 7-year-old, I picked my World Series team based on venue. (And uniforms. I’ll save that for another post.)
Fast-forward a few years to when we got Camden Yards and Jacobs Field, and my interest in stadiums increased greatly because I grew up mostly with the cookie-cutter, turf-riddled, multi-purpose stadiums such as Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, Fulton County Stadium, Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Riverfront Stadium, etc.
I was aesthetically deprived until I wasn’t, and then my interest in baseball architecture was greatly heightened. The truth is that this new, early-90s era of stadium architecture was a throwback to early 1900s greatness, not some new innovation.
What’s old became new again.
That’s why it’s especially appropriate that the National Ballpark Museum is in Denver — because Coors Field was architected in the style of older stadiums, especially Ebbets Field and I believe Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium).
It has a prominent, rounded front and the entire stadium sits right close to the street.
Coors Field wasn’t ushering in a new era of stadiums. It was a hearty hat-tip to the best stadiums of years gone by.
That’s all I really have to say about the museum. After rooting on the Dodgers to a 4-0 win over Colorado that night, Kristi went back to the sports bar we first visited that afternoon and split a plate of nachos and a beer and watched some UFC on the big screen with hundreds of other Denver folk. The one thing I remember about the fight we saw was that the loser of the match proposed to her girlfriend on live TV.
Neither Kristi nor I know much about UFC, so it was the post-match happening that was most memorable.
The things we remember! Anyway, I’m glad I take lots of photos when I visit places. The National Baseball Museum is quite memorable, but there was so much baseball goodness in one spot, these photos will keep the venue and our visit with Bruce in our memories for the rest of our lives.
Or until the next time we visit. And we will!
Now for your perusal, the photos I took from the National Ballpark Museum. Enjoy!