If you’re making east coast vacation plans, you might consider a stop at the Library of Congress, where a major exhibition featuring baseball history and artifacts will open in June.
“Baseball Americana” will make its debut a couple of weeks before Washington D.C. hosts the Major League Baseball All-Star Game but will be in place for about a year.
Featured artifacts will include the first handwritten and printed references to baseball in America; early rules of the game; historical baseball images, including a lithograph of prisoners of war playing baseball in captivity during the Civil War and photographs from baseball throughout the decades; familiar players from some of the Library’s collections of early baseball cards; Branch Rickey’s scouting reports; popular baseball movies and early flickering footage from the late 1800s; broadcasts of iconic baseball moments and rare interviews and clips of Hall of Fame players, including Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and others.
Additional artifacts and video footage, borrowed from Major League Baseball, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and private collectors, have been selected to expand upon storylines developed from the Library’s baseball materials.
Original content developed in collaboration with ESPN will support the Library’s collections.
“Baseball has been part of our community from children playing in local ballparks to professional athletes playing in the country’s biggest stadiums – and the Library’s unique collection shows how the game and American society evolved together,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
The exhibition will be organized into five sections:
- “Origins and Early Days” will feature the development of baseball from its early forms, when Massachusetts Town Ball and the New York Game battled for supremacy, to the game we know today.
- “Who’s Playing?” will encompass the variety of participants and the diverse array of ball clubs that ruled the sandlot, barnstormed the country or occupied stadiums.
- “At the Ballpark” will examine traditions and changes in the architecture and accoutrements of baseball, fan interaction, music and media coverage.
- “The Promise of Baseball” will explore how the game gave poor players a path out of poverty and new immigrants access and the ability to help shape American culture, as well as the economics and business of baseball and how the game has been used for diplomacy beyond U.S. borders.
- “The Art and Science of Baseball” explores modern methods of building a team, getting an edge, tracking statistics, etc.
“Baseball Americana” will be on view in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition will be free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Two books published in association with the Library of Congress will be released to coincide with the exhibition. In May, Harper Perennial will release an updated edition of “Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress,” which includes hundreds of historical images and numerous milestones of the national pastime. In October, Smithsonian Books will release “Game Faces: Early Baseball Cards from the Library of Congress,” which showcases rare and colorful baseball cards from the Library’s Benjamin K. Edwards Collection.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library of Congress will develop a series of special programs including family activities, gallery talks, film screenings, panel discussions, educational materials and teacher workshops, docent-led tours and more.