When putting together an exhibit about the history of baseball, running out of display material is no problem, Tammis Groft discovered.
“We began by looking at our own collection, and then we put out a call to the public and other museums, so this is definitely what we’re calling a community-curated exhibit,” said Groft, executive director of the Albany Institute of History & Art.
“The history of baseball in the Capital Region is very rich, and it’s amazing the amount of photographs, scorecards, scrapbooks and jerseys we have for this exhibit. There is so much stuff.”
“Triple Play: Baseball at the Albany Institute” opens Saturday at the institute. The exhibit is separated into three sections, the centerpiece being “Baseball: America’s Game,” a traveling exhibit produced by the Bank of America’s Art in our Communities program. That part of the display focuses on some of the game’s biggest names and stories.
The other two sections, “Play Ball: Baseball in the Capital Region,” and “The Clubhouse: Baseball Memorabilia,” focus on the sport’s history in the local area.
“This is the first time the Albany Institute has presented an exhibition about baseball,” said Groft. “It’s been a wonderful excuse to search our archives and see what the museum has collected over the years that relates to the region’s baseball history.”
‘Triple Play: Baseball at the Institute’
WHERE: Albany Institute of History and Art, 125 Washington Ave., Albany
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, until 8 p.m. Thursday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday; exhibit opens Saturday and runs through July 26
HOW MUCH: $10; seniors and students, $8; children 6-12, $6; children under 6, free
MORE INFO: 463-4478, www.albanyinstitute.org
An opening reception will be held Friday between 5-8 p.m. at the Albany Institute, and the exhibit runs through July 26. Baseball experts have been lined up to deliver presentations relating to the exhibit, including Saugerties John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball. Thorn’s talk will kick off the lecture series at 2 p.m. Sunday. The cost of the talk is $10.
“Baseball: America’s Game” is a multimedia exhibit that features more than 90 historic photographs, illustrations, artifacts and audio/video installations from the sport’s last 100 years.
The two exhibits focusing on local baseball include information on the Albany Senators, Mohawk Giants and Troy Haymakers, just to name a few. Also on display will be the uniform of Mellie Wolfgang, a former Albany Senator who also played with the Chicago White Sox when they won the World Series in 1917.
“His family brought that in just last week, so that was pretty cool,” said Groft, who has been assisted by AIHA museum intern Andrew Lang, a senior at Siena College.
“The institute also has some wonderful photographs in its collection of the Senators from that time period, 1906-1915, and we also have Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter bats from the Albany-Colonie Yankees.”
The Schenectady County Historical Society and the Museum of Science and Innovation have also contributed information and artifacts to the exhibit, including information on Schenectady’s black baseball team from the first half of the 20th century, the Mohawk Giants.
Early black team
“The Giants played a team from Albany called the Albany Black Yankees and they would have some titanic struggles,” said Frank Keetz, a former history teacher at Bethlehem Central and local baseball expert.
“They played in Albany and Schenectady, and sometimes on Sunday they’d go up to Saratoga to play because there was no racing on Sunday. People would bet on the games.”
Keetz, who has written extensively on the Schenectady Blue Jays, a minor league team from the first half of the 20th century, will speak at the Albany Institute on April 19.
“I’m going to talk about the times Babe Ruth played in Albany,” said Keetz. “People keep asking me about it, so I started researching it a while ago.”
Ruth often played exhibition games for major league teams against the Albany Senators, who played at Hawkins Stadium.
Among the Senators’ memorabilia on display will be a sweat shirt worn by Frank Staucet, a shortstop with the team during the 1950s.
“We won our pennant in 1949 and I probably played about eight or nine years with the Senators,” said Staucet, who grew up just outside of Chicago but remained in the Albany area after he retired from baseball in 1957.
“I have some shirts, some pictures of the stadium and some scorecards that I gave them for the exhibit. We didn’t make the kind of money these guys do today, but when I played it was the golden age of baseball. There were only 16 major league teams back then, so the competition was tough getting to the majors. But there were a lot of minor league teams, and in Albany when we had good teams we were very well received.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]
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