Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 66: National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum

On July 24, 2009, we visited the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum in Oklahoma City. It is not exactly baseball, but it is a closely related sport, so I decided to make it part of the trip. Plus, I was a softball fan for a few years when we had a NPF team in Tucson. Sadly, though, that league apparently is not related to the ASA as nothing about the league is in the museum. However, softball in the Olympics did have its whole own room of the museum, which is really saying something because the museum rather small.

The Hall of Fame begins with a little bit about how the sport of softball was started in Illinois. It has some early softball items on display related to that, but after that the first floor gets rather boring unless you know about the softball players of the past. That is because this floor is mostly the hall of fame with circular plaques of players and others inducted into the Softball Hall of Fame. I had not heard of more than one or two in the hall of fame and it was sad to see how the place is upkept, as it goes as bad as seeing one guys hall of fame circle actually entirely missing while others looked ready to fall off.

The one part of the whole museum that I did enjoy was the Olympic room off to one side of the Hall of Fame. This room does have the upkeep issue of things falling off the wall behind the glass in some of the display cases, but it does have some cool things. They have a large display case devoted to the 4 Olympics softball was an event (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). The top of each display case says what Team USA got (Gold for 3 and Silver for 2008). Things on display included team rosters, tickets from the games, signed softballs from the games, uniforms, and bases.

The museum also has a basement floor to it. It sure was not obvious how that floor is accessible for wheelchairs, but Mik did not want to be here anyways, so we did not even ask if there was some hidden elevator. By the way even finding a staff member to ask would not have been easy, as they were mostly absent including the gift shop mostly being unmanned. The lower level has some interesting stuff, but a large portion of it is just photos of teams and the only info is just names. They do have a college section, though, which includes items related to different championship teams including the University of Arizona.

Overall the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum was not worth going out of our way for. Most of the small museums we have visited have been very worthwhile, but this one is on the verge of being a more big time one while it really is a neglected small museum. Many small museums are the ones you find the people actually passionate about it, but this one does not even have actual staff working other than the take the admission money or ring up your gift shop purchases. Actually that is the main staff role at all the small museums, but at every other one they are least at people that were friendly and/or interested in being there. Not even those paid to be here seem to want to be here and that seems to really say something about its quality.

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