ST. PETERSBURG – Tuesday, October 22 is Baseball Day in St. Petersburg.
Schrader’s Little Cooperstown, a world-class baseball exhibit opens in the St. Petersburg Museum of History Tuesday, Oct. 22. Hundreds of Major Leaguers and dozens of Hall of Famers, who once called the Sunshine City home during Spring Training, return to St. Petersburg – at least on the walls and displays of the exhibit.
Made up of more than 4,600 baseballs, documents, story boards and video screens – the exhibit connects America’s national pastime with historical events from the region and around the world.
The official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at 10 a.m. The festivities conclude with a special-edition baseball themed Happy Hour with the Historian with renown baseball writer Peter Golenbock at 6 p.m.
Schrader’s Little Cooperstown is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest private collection of autographed baseballs in the world.
Stories and artifacts of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Joe DiMaggio, as well as leagues such as the Women’s Professional Baseball League and the Negro Leagues, take visitors on a journey through America’s and St. Petersburg’s rich history.
This rare collection of memorabilia also explores more than 100 years of Tampa Bay’s own history as a Spring Training destination for more than a dozen teams, including the Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Blue Jays, Cubs, Cardinals, Mets and Rays.
But the collection isn’t limited to the Boys of Summer.
The “Celebrities” wall showcases autographed baseballs and stories of hundreds of notable celebrities, actors and world leaders such as Fidel Castro, Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan, Neil Armstrong, Margaret Thatcher and Barack Obama.
According to Guinness World Records, the largest amount of money ever paid for an autographed baseball was for a ball signed by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Such a ball is displayed in the exhibit.
On loan from collectors Dennis and Mary Schrader, the Little Cooperstown exhibit will enjoy a 20-year run at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
“Whether you are a baseball fan or not, this is an amazing collection and exhibit,” said Rui Farias, Museum executive director. “We’re thrilled that Dennis and Mary Schrader chose St. Petersburg and the Museum of History as the location to showcase it to the world.”
Museum patrons can become a part of this World Record collection by purchasing and autographing their own baseball for as little as $100, which will be included in the exhibit.
Happy Hour With The Historian
The St. Petersburg Museum of History will host a special-edition of the successful Happy Hour with the Historian lecture series on Oct. 22, with famed sports author and historian Peter Golenbock.
Golenbock has written some of sports' most important books, including New York Times best sellers The Bronx Zoo, which he wrote in 1979 with New York Yankee pitcher Sparky Lyle; BUMS: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1984), Personal Fouls (1988), a look at corruption in college basketball; American Zoom (1993), a history of NASCAR; and Wild, High and Tight (1994) his lurid biography of Yankee manager Billy Martin.
Golenbock was also a radio sports talk show host in 1980 on station WOR in New York City. He was the color commentator for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball League in 1989-90 and has been a frequent guest on many of the top television and radio talk shows including Biography on A&E, the Fifty Greatest Athletes and the Dynasties on ESPN, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and Up Close with Roy Firestone.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for Happy Hour with the Historian and will include baseball-themed food and a cash bar. There is a suggested donation of $5 for the lecture.
The St. Petersburg Museum of History is located at 335 Second Ave. NE in St. Petersburg. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.
For more information on donations, sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets to the Little Cooperstown exhibit, visit www.spmoh.org or call 727-894-1052.