Cleveland Public Library Opens Area's First Sports Research Center, Hosts Special 'Pride & Passion' Exhibit

Submitted by Cleveland Publi... on Mon, 04/11/2011 - 14:32.

Cleveland Public Library (CPL) is celebrating the beginning of our national pastime by announcing the opening of the Cleveland Public Library Sports Research Center and its inaugural exhibit, “Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience.” CPL is proud to be partnering with the Cleveland Indians for the opening reception to display the new Center and Pride & Passion exhibit on April 25 at 3:30 p.m. on the 5th floor of the Main Library, Louis Stokes Wing, corner of East Sixth and Superior. The Center will be open and free to the public year round.

The Center will showcase the best of Cleveland sports history all in one convenient location, with more than 25,000 book and magazine titles and primary research materials, including archival photos, scrapbooks, autographs, clippings, oral history recordings, correspondence, and more. The Center will also feature a special display of exclusive memorabilia honoring perhaps the greatest Cleveland Indian, the late Bob Feller.

“Sports are a part of Cleveland’s DNA,” said Felton Thomas, director of Cleveland Public Library. “Clevelanders either love or hate the changing weather seasons, but they always embrace the start of a new sports season. Fans now can visit their Downtown Destination Main Library and travel back into Cleveland sports history to reminisce about a favorite player or game or discover something new about their beloved sports teams and heroes.”

The Center will also host ongoing exhibits, and its first one, “Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience,” is an exceptional one that will run until May 3.  The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): great ideas brought to life. The traveling exhibit is based upon an exhibition of the same name on permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Pride and Passion exhibition captures the story of the black baseball players who formed the Negro Leagues after being rejected entry into Major League Baseball when it began in the mid 1890s. Throughout the early 20th century, until the last team disbanded in 1961, the Negro Leagues showcased some of the greatest players ever to play the game, such as Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson, and the early careers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and the Cleveland Indians’ own Larry Doby.

At the April 25 reception, the public can explore the Center, experience the Pride & Passion exhibit, and meet past Negro League players, including Ernest Nimmons. Now living in Elyria, Ohio, Mr. Nimmons played for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952 alongside Hank Aaron, as well as with other teams including the Philadelphia Stars and Kansas City Monarchs.

The community will also have the opportunity to hear from the Cleveland Indians Vice President of Public Relations Bob DiBiasio, and retired Indians player and 1980 American League Rookie of the Year, Joe Charboneau. They will be available for questions and answers and autographs. The Cleveland Indians are not only partnering with CPL for the opening reception, but have graciously donated historic memorabilia to the Center.

Some highlights of the Center’s research materials include:

  • Jackie Robinson: correspondence, programs, and funeral materials from Martin Stone's Jackie Robinson files. Stone served as his attorney after Robinson retired from baseball;
  • The Plain Dealer Historical Archive: an online database providing access to every page of the newspaper from 1845-1991 and allowing sports fans to search for articles on their favorite players and games;
  • Charles W. Mears scrapbook collection: box scores from one of baseball’s first statisticians for games from 1853 to 1941, consisting of 40 scrapbooks, plus books, serials, annuals, and early league constitutions;
  • Eugene C. Murdock clipping collection: 50 scrapbooks for the period 1910-1976 and fiction, photographs, and around 100 oral history interviews with players from the first half of the twentieth century;
  • Baseball Fiction: a larger collection of fiction ranging from “dime” novels from 1860-1910, the first American novel describing a baseball game, the first American novel using the word "baseball," the first American novel focused on baseball activities, and the first Canadian novel containing baseball activity;
  • How-To-Play Baseball Manuals: flip-picture manuals and famous name guides from 1910-1960;
  • Black Baseball History: photographs of players from 1960-present;
  • Boxing History: Cleveland Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament scrapbooks that covers the period from 1929-1961.

CPL is sponsoring free programs for the public in connection with the Pride and Passion exhibition. Contact the Sports Research Center at 216.623.2860 for more information.

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