Royals Hall of Fame to honor All-Star history
Exhibits pay tribute to city's rich Midsummer Classic tradition
KANSAS CITY -- As Kauffman Stadium prepares to host the top stars of today at the 2012 All-Star Game next month, the Royals Hall of Fame is busy showcasing the stars of the past.
The Royals Hall of Fame, located behind left field at Kauffman Stadium, has several new exhibits on display this season. Two exhibits in particular display artifacts from All-Star Games past, including one that will feature items that have a connection to Kansas City's All-Star Game history.
The Kansas City All-Star exhibit is currently being assembled, and it will be ready when All-Star events descend on Kauffman Stadium. Artifacts scheduled to appear include a program from Kansas City's first All-Star Game: the 1939 American Association All-Star Game, which was played at Ruppert Field, the field that later became Municipal Stadium. Also on display will be a bat used by Kansas City Athletics All-Star Bob Cerv in the 1958 All-Star Game in Baltimore.
Several pieces from the 1960 All-Star Game at Municipal Stadium will be on display, including the American League lineup card, pennants from both leagues and a Mickey Mantle game-used bat.
Aside from the Kansas City All-Star exhibit is an exhibit that has been in the Royals Hall of Fame all season, and it will surely have fans from across the country buzzing during All-Star Weekend. It features items from All-Star history on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Artifacts range in date from the very first All-Star Game in 1933 to the Midsummer Classics of the 21st century. There are a couple of artifacts from the inaugural All-Star Game, including a game-worn National League jersey, a ticket from the game and a baseball autographed by the AL All-Star team, including Babe Ruth.
Two pieces of All-Star Game home run history are on display. The ball that Ted Williams launched to win the 1941 game was the first walk-off home run in All-Star Game history. It ricocheted out of the upper deck in right field at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, and it was picked up by Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter. Slaughter kept the ball and presented it to Williams when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. The ball is signed by both Williams and Slaughter.
Also on display is the bat Fred Lynn used to crush the only grand slam in All-Star Game history, hit in 1983 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Royals legend George Brett tripled and scored earlier in the third inning, the inning where Lynn hit the slam.
Kansas City fans will recognize the Royals hat worn by outfielder Bo Jackson in the 1989 All-Star Game. Jackson is most remembered for crushing a home run in the first inning of that game at Anaheim Stadium, but he also made a running grab in the outfield while his cap flew off. Jackson was named the MVP of the game.
The 21st century is represented, as well. The final ball used in the 2002 game, which ended in a tie, is on display, as is a jersey worn by Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
A crush of fans will descend on Kauffman Stadium for the All-Star events. Just how many people are the Royals Hall of Fame expecting?
"We are excited to find out," Royals Hall of Fame director Curt Nelson said. "We anticipate and are planning to welcome great crowds at each ballpark event. We enjoy sharing Kansas City's great baseball stories, both with our local fans and those visiting from out of town. An event like the All-Star Game will hopefully bring a great number of fans to Kauffman Stadium and the Royals Hall of Fame for the first time. We hope everyone will make the Royals Hall of Fame one of their stops while they are here."
In addition to these All-Star-themed exhibits, there are a couple other exhibits new to the Hall of Fame for this season.
Fans can take a look at Alex Gordon's 2011 Gold Glove Award, as well as game-used gloves from other Gold Glove-winning outfielders. Also on display are batting gloves, jerseys and hats from Royals debuts that took place in 2011, a display the Hall of Fame has dubbed "2011: The Year of the Rookie."
Another new exhibit that music fans will be interested in is a signed jersey and guitar from country music legend Garth Brooks. Brooks, whose hit song "Friends in Low Places" is played during the sixth inning at every Royals home game, participated in Spring Training with the team in 2004.
For those looking to check out these exhibits during their trips to All-Star events, the Royals Hall of Fame will open when Kauffman Stadium opens its gates on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of All-Star Week. Fans who aren't able to make it out to Kauffman Stadium can enjoy an exhibit focusing on Kansas City's baseball history called "Hometown Heroes" at MLB All-Star FanFest. FanFest will take place from Friday, July 6, through Tuesday, July 10, the day of the All-Star Game.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.