Eighty items from the collection of baseball historian and author Stephen Wong are the focal point of an upcoming display at The California Museum in Sacramento.
“California at Bat: America’s Pastime in the Golden State” will open on Sun., July 29. The all-new exhibit chronicles California’s baseball history from the Gold Rush to present. Featuring more than 200 rarely seen artifacts, highlights include uniforms, equipment and ephemera from Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and others, along with objects from Pacific Coast League teams and from Edmonds Field, home of the Sacramento Solons until 1960.
“Although the major leagues didn’t arrive until the 1950s, Californians have enjoyed baseball for 160 years, said California Museum Executive Director Amanda Meeker. “This exhibit offers an unprecedented opportunity to view artifacts representing the sweep of California baseball from 19th century town ball to the legends of baseball’s Golden Age and the heroes of the modern era.”
“California at Bat” was developed in collaboration with Wong, author of three Smithsonian Books, including “Game Worn: Baseball Treasures from the Game’s Greatest Heroes and Moments”
Highlights from his collection that will be featured in the exhibit include:
- New York Yankees rookie uniform game worn by Joe DiMaggio (1914-2000) in 1936,the only season of he wore number 9. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, DiMaggio is best known for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, a standing record in 2018.
- Boston Red Sox home uniform game worn by Ted Williams (1918-2002) in 1950, the season his career nearly ended after breaking his arm in the All-Star game.The San Diego native was the last player to bat over .400 in a season (.406 in 1941).
- San Francisco Giants home jersey game worn by Willie Mays (b. 1931) in 1965, the season he led the NL with 52 home runs and won his second NL MVP Award.Considered the game’s greatest all-around player, Mays has lived in California since moving with the Giants in 1958.
- Los Angeles Dodgers road jersey game worn by Sandy Koufax (b. 1935) in 1966, the last year of his MLB career and the year he won a third Cy Young Award.A resident of California since moving with the Dodgers in 1958, Koufax is also remembered for sitting out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series when it fell on Yom Kippur, and for pitching baseball’s eighth perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965.
“As a native Californian who is deeply passionate about baseball and the history of the game, I’m proud and honored to have been a part of ‘California at Bat,’” said Stephen Wong. “I’m delighted to share my collection with members of the public in this extraordinary new installation revealing the state’s significant contributions to baseball.”
Contributions of Californians who broke barriers are also explored. For example, Jackie Robinson is heralded through a 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers team-autographed ball, along with a ticket and program from his April 15, 1947 debut. In addition to ending the segregation that had relegated African-Americans to the Negro Leagues since the 1880s, Robinson was also the first to win a NL MVP Award, reflected by his 1949 trophy on display.
Accomplishments of California women are shown through uniforms from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and modern softball Olympians, while artifacts from Japanese American and Mexican American leagues emphasize the sport’s role in facilitating social and political networks in disadvantaged communities.
In addition, the exhibit surveys the state’s baseball history before the arrival of the majors in 1958. Uniforms, equipment and ephemera revisit the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento Solons, San Francisco Seals, Oakland Oaks, Hollywood Stars, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels, while objects from Edmonds Field, home of the Sacramento Solons until 1960, recall the local baseball park experience.
“California at Bat” will open in a public event on Sun., July 29 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Highlights include $5.00 reduced admission; presentations by Stephen Wong, Matt Stone and Alan O’Connor; 19th century “base ball” demonstrations; Home Run Challenge and Speed Pitch games; baseball card evaluations; beer garden (21+); food trucks; hands-on kids’ activities and more. For details on the exhibit continuing through Dec. 30, 2018, visit http://www.californiamuseum.org/baseball.