Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baseball Museum 18: Legends of the Game Museum

On July 23, 2009, before leaving Arlington, Texas, we went back to the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington in order to see the Legends of the Game museum they have inside the ballpark. The museum has three levels to it and is actually got a good amount to see, however, a big portion of it is just stuff from the Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum collection and seems to be a lot of lesser known players with not enough info to understand why they put the person’s stuff on display other than they did play professional baseball. Come on I got to imagine they can come up with one interesting stat or thing each player has done even if it is not record breaking or overall historically important.

The first floor of the Legends of the Game Museum was mostly things on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There is also a small theater area that honors Sammy Sosa hitting his 600th Home Run at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, which was a game that he was a Texas Ranger in against his old team the Chicago Cubs. They have several items on display from this historical game including a base and the line up card. The video of his home run and the celebration afterwards continuously plays in this area. One of the walls also honors the other members of the 600 Home Run Club.

Personally I found a lot of the Hall of Fame stuff on the first floor boring. It is basically just like visiting Cooperstown, but it does not have the history of baseball or the actual hall of fame plaques that are the main things good about the real Hall of Fame. It is not bad if you cannot get to Cooperstown, but it is kind of boring after having seen Cooperstown. They do have a few interesting things, though, such as an original ticket booth from the Polo Grounds in New York City and Babe Ruth’s 1921 King of Swat trophy. They also actually have some items used in the Negro Leagues to look at, which is the opposite if Cooperstown, which does have a whole room devoted to the Negro Leagues, but does not have much in terms of artifacts on display. Thus I guess in some ways this place is better, but it also has its out of date flaws like the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The biggest of the errors is that they have at least two places with North America maps with dots where the 30 Major League Baseball teams are located. Well, the map is at least 5 years out of date because it still lists the Montreal Expos as being current and not having moved to D.C. to become the Washington Nationals. The error about their not currently being a team in D.C. is also in the second floor exhibits about the Washington Senators moving to the Rangers and saying that no team has been in D.C. since. Being a Nationals fan I found it pretty insulting that they basically still ignore it existing and are too lazy to at least put a post it fixing the errors. It sure was tempting to get a Sharpie and mark the Nationals on their giant map.

Despite the errors in information related to baseball in D.C. I did enjoy the second floor. It has displays that basically tell the history of the Texas Rangers. They may ignore that there is currently a team in D.C., but at least they do not ignore that their team history begins as them being the second Washington Senators team that began after the first Senators left to become the Minnesota Twins. Of course, it is still mostly about the team’s time in Texas, but that is understandably how it should be since it is in the Texas Rangers ballpark. Also, as expected one of the bigger displays is devoted to Nolan Ryan, who finished his career with the Rangers.

The second floor has more than just displays about the Rangers organization. One of the areas shows the history of baseball in the state of Texas mostly focusing on the Texas League. They also have a ballpark exhibit that includes a look at the building of the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington with models of the stadium. They also have parts from other ballparks as part of the things they have from Cooperstown. This includes lockers from the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati and seats from around 10 old ballparks, such as the Polo Grounds in New York City, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and Tiger Stadium.

The final part of the museum is an interactive exhibit area. Here you can get the feel of what it is like to catch a ball thrown by Nolan Ryan. This is just like the one at the Nolan Ryan Exhibit Center, but Dad and Mik missed that part, so they both tried it here. There is also several areas that quiz on different subjects and use baseball to help teach the different subjects, such as Math, Science, and Geography. Mik really enjoyed catching the ball from Nolan Ryan thing, which was nicely wheelchair accessible to roll up to.

Overall the Legends of the Game Museum was interesting, but the first floor was kind of a dull repeat of part of what we already saw a Cooperstown. The second floor was definitely the best part with the history of the Rangers and some things from various ballparks. The third floor is also kind of cool with the interactive things. Note the museum is accessible, but you will have to ask for help finding and using the elevator, since it is hidden and also does not always drop you off directly in the museum and it can be confusing to find your way back into the museum without help. I still do not like that they ignore the Nationals existing, but it is accessible and it was still worth seeing.

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