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Baseball Exhibit Opens at American Museum of Natural History - 2001-11-10

The baseball World Series in North America may have just ended, but a museum in New York is already making plans for next year's baseball season. The American Museum of Natural History is preparing for a March opening of an exhibit of baseball memorabilia - and two of the treasures are already on display.

Two baseball artifacts stand at the entrances of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to highlight an exhibition on what has long been called "America's pastime."

One is the cornerstone of historic Ebbets Field, home of the former Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, which graces one part of the museum. Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960 after the team moved to Los Angeles, but it remains a vivid image for many older New York baseball fans, because of the long rivalries between the Dodgers and the city's other two teams - the Giants and the Yankees.

Museum visitors also are able to view remnants of another New York baseball team that left home. Six seats from the Polo Grounds, home of the former New York Giants until they moved to San Francisco in 1957, will be on display as well.

The two icons are part of an upcoming exhibition, "Baseball as America," which will examine the relationship between baseball and American culture, exploring a broad range of themes.

The president of the American Museum of Natural History, Ellen Futter, says baseball is an integral part of American history. "Baseball as America will show that our national pastime can be seen as a microcosm of American culture, that its history mirrors the very progress of American society, thus this exhibition will examine such issues as civil rights and integration, immigration, popular culture, the role of game and sport in society, the physics of baseball, technology, patriotism, rituals and myths, as well as the business side of America's favorite sport," she says.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is organizing the exhibition, which opens in March 2002 to coincide with the beginning of baseball season.

The head of the Cooperstown museum, Jane Forbes Clark, says the resumption of baseball one week after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington represented the resumption of American life.

"Baseball as America has become crystal clear since the events of September 11th. Commissioner Bud Selig canceling games for a week of grieving and then signaling to the nation that it was time to resume our lives with the resumption of play. Flags being sewn into every uniform, jersey, and cap, God Bless America being sung during every Seventh inning stretch and President Bush bravely stepping to the Yankee Stadium mound all by himself amidst terrorist threats to throw a strike at the third game of the World Series," he said. After its run in New York City, the exhibition will travel to nine cities across the United States. It marks the first traveling exhibition of about 500 baseball artifacts on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.