Smithsonian Adds Major League Baseball Artifacts to National Sports Collection
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will add more than a dozen significant artifacts from the careers of Major League Baseball players, including Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith to the national sports collection during a special donation ceremony.
Baseball jerseys, gloves, bats and other objects used by baseball legends representing six of the major league teams they played with are a gift from the private collection of Thomas Tull, a private collector; the founder, chairman and CEO of Tulco; and the founding chairman and former CEO of Legendary Entertainment.
One of the significant objects in the collection is a baseball signed by the 1927 New York Yankees team, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, which won the World Series that year. Also from the New York Yankees are a bat and glove used by Berra in the 1950s. The Boston Red Sox are represented by a hat and jersey used by Williams; the San Francisco Giants with a hat, glove and shoes worn by Mays; the Baltimore Orioles with a glove used by Robinson; the Milwaukee Braves contribute a glove and bat used by Aaron; and the St. Louis Cardinals are represented by a jersey and glove worn by Smith as well as Musial’s jersey.
“Baseball, the nation’s first popular team spectator sport, has had a long and lasting impact on our nation’s cultural consciousness,” said John Gray, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History. “It does so in a way that is both unique and vital. The players and teams represented in this donation are called legends for a reason. Thanks to the passion and generosity of Thomas Tull, these objects are now national treasures that belong to all of us.”
These 14 objects from America’s favorite pastime will join the museum’s sports collection, which includes autographed baseballs, a ticket booth from the original Yankee Stadium, uniforms and equipment, including Roberto Clemente’s batting helmet and jersey, and other historically important artifacts representing all aspects of the sport.
The 1927 New York Yankees are widely considered to be the best team in Major League Baseball history. The team ended that season with a record of 110–44, winning their fifth pennant and finishing 19 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics. This is the Yankee team recognized for the lineup nicknamed “Murderers Row,” which included, in addition to Ruth and Gehrig, Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.
Williams played for the Boston Red Sox between 1939 and 1960, excluding the time he served in the military during World War II and the Korean War. His team jersey dates from 1955 and the hat from the ’50s.
Musial spent his 22-year career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941–1944 and 1946–1963, serving in the Navy in between. His St. Louis Cardinals jersey is from 1952.
Berra played 18 seasons with the Yankees from 1946–1963 and then joined the New York Mets in 1965 as a coach and, briefly, as a player. He later returned to coach and manage the Yankees and also coached the Houston Astros. His bat and glove were both used during the 1956 season.
Mays began his professional career with the Negro Leagues and then spent most of his 22-season career with the New York (1951–1952) and San Francisco Giants (1954−1972). He played his final season (1972−1973) with the New York Mets. Mays’ glove dates from the 1960s and the shoes and hat were worn in 1971.
Aaron’s playing career was with the Milwaukee and later, Atlanta Braves, and spanned from 1954 to 1976. He is currently the senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves. The bat was used by Aaron for the 1957 All-Star Game and the glove from 1963 to 1964.
Robinson played his entire 23-year career for the Baltimore Orioles, from 1955 to 1977. He used the glove during the 1974 season.
Smith played for the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1978 to 1996. He wore the St. Louis Cardinals jersey and used the glove in 1986.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily, except Dec. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
# # #