One-Tank Trip for May 27-17
(c) By Jim Fox
An historic stone farmhouse jam-packed with artifacts in St. Marys is Canada’s shrine to baseball in an area linked to the first game ever played.
Despite American claims that the call “play ball” originated a year earlier at Cooperstown,
N.Y., Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum archivists cried foul when the museum opened there in 1998 after moving from Toronto.
|A replica 1940’s Girls Professional Baseball league uniform and historic bats can be seen at the museum. (Jim Fox photo)|
They chronicled the origin to 1838 when a game closely resembling that of today’s was played in nearby Beachville.
The museum is among the sport’s area heritage sites including Beachville and London’s Labatt Park, the world’s oldest baseball grounds from 1877.
The ball hall is a definitive repository of the game’s treasures, offering aficionados an insight into the “Field of Dreams.”
There are stories, legends, early photos and artifacts including ancient pitching machines, bats, balls and gloves on display and in storage.
It pays homage to 117 inductees who have left their mark on Canadian ball.
|The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will be getting a major addition. (Jim Fox photo)|
Donated items arrive regularly to be artfully displayed in the museum run by a non-profit, charitable foundation dedicated to preserving Canada’s baseball heritage.
Some early treasures include a Babe Ruth bat, Ty Cobb’s 1920s-era glove and, yes, Toronto Blue Jays World Series rings.
There’s the Cy Young award won in 1971 by Ferguson Jenkins, a poster of Ruth hitting his first professional home run at Hanlan’s Point in Toronto in 1914, a signed uniform from Larry Walker and a colourful 1899 scorecard from the Toronto Baseball Club.
Here’s the pitch
It’s an exciting and busy time as the hall’s board recently approved a major expansion of the museum, induction ceremonies and hosting some 900 events including tournaments and clinics on the ball fields this year.
|An antique pitching machine is one of the archives at the Canadian ball hall in St. Marys. (Barbara Fox photo)|
“The 2,500-square-foot (232.2-square-meter) expansion will enable the hall to increase collection storage and curatorial work space and establish a library and research centre for its extensive collection of books and archival material,” said Scott Crawford, director of operations.
Work is to begin by the end of the year on the $850,000 project to be funded by the hall’s capital reserve and a federal grant.
“This is an important initiative to address the immediate needs of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection and to improve the experience for visitors to the museum,” said board chair Adam Stephens.
Induction weekend starts on June 22 with a Toronto reception and a celebrity golf classic June 23 at St. Marys Golf and Country Club.
The June 24 induction ceremony at 1 p.m. at the hall is followed by an autograph session with current and past inductees.
|A chair made from baseball bats and balls, and antique uniforms are on display. (Barbara Fox photo)|
New inductees include Toronto Blue Jays legend Roy Halladay; Montreal Expos great Vladimir Guerrero; past Baseball Canada president Ray Carter; British Columbia umpire Doug Hudlin; and Team Canada 2015 Senior Men’s National Team – Pan-Am gold medalists.
Take a dip
Visitors are encouraged to bring along swim suits to take a dip in the quarry in this picturesque community at the confluence of the Thames River and Trout Creek, about 15 minutes west of Stratford.
Known as Stonetown for the limestone used to construct many of its buildings, St. Marys is filled with interesting shops, fine restaurants and inns.
Dating from 1841, the community has many examples of work by early stonemasons, notably the town hall, opera house, library, old water tower, churches, many houses and two railway viaducts.
Hiking along the Grand Trunk Trail on a former railway line to the Sarnia Bridge over the Thames River provides panoramic views of the town. It then links with the River View Walkway.
If you go
The hall at 386 Church St. S. is open now through Aug. 31, Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. From Sept. 1 to Oct. 7, Thursday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Pre-booked tours are available Oct. 8 to May 4.
Admission is $7.50, adults; $6, seniors; $3.75, ages six to 16; and $15, family (two adults, two children). baseballhalloffame.ca; (519) 284-1838
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca