Avron B. Fogelman once was a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals. But the memorabilia collection the successful businessman has assembled is positively regal.
Fogelman, 79, has spent most of his life building a large memorabilia collection. Wednesday, he unveiled where his collection will be housed— in a 3,500-square-foot museum located on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
The museum will be open to the public beginning Feb. 18.
There are more than 1,200 pieces of memorabilia in Fogelman’s collection, including World Series memorabilia from 1985, when the Royals won their first Fall Classic. Fogelman was a part-owner of the team from 1983 to 1991.
But there is more, including some jaw-dropping relics.
One exhibit will contain the uniform pants worn by Washington Senators catcher Moe Berg — baseball’s most patriotic spy — from the 1930s.
The Berg memorabilia serves as a bridge between sports and history, and Fogelman is eager to share that knowledge.
The pants hang along items signed by crew members of the Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb in August 1945. It was Berg’s spying in Japan during an all-star trip of major leaguers to the country in 1934 that provided U.S. intelligence officials with vital information they used a decade later during World War II.
“Sports are so engrained in our identity that a great deal of our collective history could be shared through famous athletic moments,” Fogelman said in a news release. “To serve as stewards of that story, we have to share our knowledge with the next generation and keep the passion for sports alive.”
Other exhibits include the 1950 baseball scouting report on future Hall of Famer Willie Mays, memorabilia signed by seven U.S. presidents, a football signed by members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, boxing trunks signed by heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, and the 13 original rules of basketball penned by the game’s inventor, James Naismith.
Fogelman’s connection to FAU is limited to classes he has taken at the university’s Lifelong Learning Institute. He was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans; the basketball arena at the university was named in his honor after he helped fund the gym’s renovation.
Still, as a longtime resident of Boca Raton, Fogelman wanted to house his collection — estimated to be worth more than $6.5 million two years ago — closer to home.
That became a reality in March 2018, when the FAU Board of Trustees approved the museum as one of five new elements at the university. Fogelman donated the collection and pledged $1.5 million to design and build the museum, adding an annual gift in perpetuity to maintain the facility.
A short video is below (silent).
Visitors entering the museum will find Olympic torches from the Summer Games from 1936 (Berlin), 1948 (London) and 1972 (Munich). Another section of the museum will concentrate on racial integration, with artifacts from Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson; Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire in the major leagues; and equipment from the Negro Leagues.
An interactive section of the museum will include a telephone call Fogelman took from President Ronald Reagan after the Royals won Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
Golf will be represented with memorabilia from Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods. The 1969 Ryder Cup, retained by the U.S. squad despite a tie with Great Britain — made famous by Nicklaus conceding a putt to Tony Jacklin in a gesture of sportsmanship that ensured the deadlock — is also part of the collection.
There is more football, too, with a helmet signed by Bronko Nagurski and a 1930s-era football signed by Jim Thorpe.
There will be autographed baseball jerseys including those worn by former New York Yankees stars Roger Maris and Alex Rodriguez, plus jerseys worn by baseball Hall of Famers. A pair of baseball uniform pants worn by Babe Ruth also will be part of the museum’s collection.
FAU President John Kelly said the exhibit, located in the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, will serve as a beacon for visitors to discover history through sports.
“History comes alive when we use the shared language of sports,” Kelly said. “Avron’s passion, coupled with our commitment to providing South Florida with interactive academic opportunities has created a unique museum. We are honored to be entrusted with his life’s work — this collection — and look forward to sharing America’s history with all who walk through its doors.”