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.
This is the UFC fight we watched at the bar in LoDo.
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!
A piece of baseball history from the 1960 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates
A piece of history from Fenway Park, home of the Boston RedSox.
This was Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.
Bricks from the 14 classic ballparks built from 1909 to 1923.
Lots of memorabilia from Crosley Field in Cincinnati at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Crosley Field, The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark
Pennants for the Pirates, Phillies, Braves and Dodgers
Memorabilia from the Cincinnati Redlegs at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Autographed photo from Crosley Field in Cincinnati, the final pitch at the Reds’ stadium before Riverfront Stadium debuted.
Various artifacts from Wrigley Field, among other ballparks.
Memorabilia about Tiger Stadium in Detroit
Look at those unis! Oakland Athletics on the cover of Sports Illustrated, featuring slugger Reggie Jackson.
Memorabilia from Tiger Stadium All Star Game 1971
One of the most famous corners in all of baseball, Michigan and Trumbull — home of the Detroit Tigers.
St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver. This is Stan Musial.
RedSox Magazine – A Monster Of A View – at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver
A photo from Fenway Park where the Boston RedSox defeated St. Louis to win the 2013 World Series
Heroes of the Negro League were memorialized at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Jimmy Fund Night – Fenway Park – an artifact from Fenway Park in Boston, shown at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Yankee Stadium memorabilia (“The House That Ruth Built”) featured at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Book at the National Ballpark Museum called “We Are The Ship,” by Kadir Nelson
Photo of Comiskey Park in Chicago during the final game at “old” Comiskey.
Photo of Mickey Mantle batting for the New York Yankees.
Mickey Mantle quote at Yankee Stadium
Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola, the guys who introduced me to baseball in the 1970s.
National Ballpark Museum curator Bruce Hellerstein talks about this Dodgers memorabilia when we visited in Denver in May 2016.
The curator of the National Ballpark Museum in Denver, Bruce Hellerstein.
This was a big Los Angeles (and Brooklyn) Dodgers section at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
The most important figure in the history of baseball is Jackie Robinson. If you haven’t seen the movie, “42,” watch it!
A signed photo of Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek, and a newspaper clipping of Tony winning a rookie award.
This is a sign pointing people toward Yankee Stadium. The sign is from the Department of Transportation and is found at the National Ballpark Museum.
A couple of mini-statues of Willie Mays, depicting “the catch” from Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians from the Polo Grounds in New York.
The National Ballpark Museum had a little shrine to Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs.
A look at some really old-school California Angels paraphernalia from the National Ballpark Museum. The Angels debuted as an MLB team in 1961.
A banner and a program from old Arlington Stadium in Texas, there is also a signed seat, I believe, from Nolan Ryan.
Look at these collectibles from the Seattle Pilots’ one and only season before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers.
A photo/painting and a statue of Babe Ruth’s called shot at Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.
The California Angels are now the Los Angeles Angels. However, from 1961-65 they were also the L.A. Angels. This is lots of paraphernalia from the really early days of the franchise.
Before the A’s were in Oakland, they were in Kansas City. Check out this 1960s memorabilia at the National Ballpark Museum.
A pennant from the early days of the Kansas City Royals and Royals Stadium, found at the National Ballpark Museum.
Memorabilia from the early days of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, found at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Memorabilia and paraphernalia from the early days of the Minnesota Twins and the minor league Millers of Minneapolis.
If I remember right, this Cubs logo was painted onto the floor at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Love the striped look of the old Denver Bears, which played from 1885-1954 in its first incarnation and then until 1985 before turning into the Zephyrs.
Interesting scripting on these Denver Bears uniforms. I’m betting these are late 70s versions.
More signs and clippings from the rich history of Denver’s Minor League Bears – located at the National Ballpark Museum in Denver.
Vintage sign from the Denver Bears, which played in two incarnations in Denver — 1885 to 1954 and then until 1985 before they were renamed the Zephyrs.
This was a neat artifact from baseball past at the National Ballpark Museum – a Babe Ruth clock. It might be a clock radio?
Reggie Jackson went from great to legend in the 1977 World Series vs, the Dodgers. This presentation at the Ballpark Museum in Denver pays homage to Mr. October.