Library of Congress opens 'Baseball Americana' exhibit

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Library of Congress is going all out this year to recognize our national pastime with a new “Baseball Americana exhibit” featuring 148 objects.

The Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden wanted to be a shortstop growing up.

“Baseball tells America’s story. It’s been a great equalizer. It’s been a sport that has brought so many people together,” said Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress.

Hayden always wanted to be a shortstop and grew up idolizing the great slugger Willie Mays. She says the exhibit conveys two very important themes for her: evolution and inclusion.

“There were more people who looked like me in the stands when Willie Mays was playing. And that sense of pride and that sense of community stuck with me for the rest of my life,” said Hayden.

The exhibit shows visitor a letter written by Jackie Robinson after breaking the game’s color barrier, Babe Ruth’s cleats, and also the original baseball “Magna Carta,” which recently sold for $3.3 million at an auction. While much of the game has remained the same, the exhibit shows transformation with balls, bats and gloves.

“There is something, to me an intangible, about why baseball resonates with a fair amount of people,” said David Mandel, chief of interpretive programs office at the Library of Congress.

Mandel says his project took over a year, finally finding the right juxtaposition between the library’s iconic books and a stadium-like aesthetic.

“What we’re trying to do is create that kind of an environment...for anyone. Fan, but non-fan to feel that it’s an interesting space and that something interesting is going on,” said Mandel.

The library is putting on events to celebrate the exhibit. One of those is “Baseball Americana family day.” That day begins with a vintage baseball clinic where visitors have to play by the rules….from 1864.