Providence’s rich baseball history is on display at City Hall in a new exhibit to be formally unveiled tomorrow (May 7) at City Hall.
The exhibit, which features memorabilia, baseball cards and photographs of the city’s long and florid baseball history, is located on the third floor of City Hall.
A reception introducing the exhibit will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow on the third floor at City Hall. It will be hosted by City Council President Luis Aponte, a Ward 10 Democrat, and City Archivist Paul Campbell, a noted Rhode Island historian.
``For more than 150 years baseball has been an integral part of life in Providence,’’ said Aponte in a news release. ``Generation after generation, people from all walks of life have have gathered together to enjoy the simple pleasures of a day at the ballpark. For a great many, baseball has acted as the bench mark by which we mark our days, remember our triumphs, and lament out losses. By honoring the tradition and history of baseball in our great city, we celebrate not just a game, but all that game has meant to the people, the culture, and the fabric of life in Providence.’’
The exhibit highlights a spectrum of baseball’s place in Providence’s sports history, harkening to the days before the Civil War. During the decade of the 1870s, Rhode Island’s first professional team, the Rhode Islands, was put together. Three years later the Providence Grays joined the National League and in 1879 the Grays won the World Series, led by the hitting of Paul Hines and the record-shattering pitching of Charles `Old Hoss’ Radbourn (Subject of a fine book by Providence Journal editorial page editor Edward Achorn).
Also chronicled are Babe Ruth’s career with the Grays in 1914 and the major league careers of such notable players with connections to the capital city as catcher Birdie Tebbetts, a Providence College graduate who played for Detroit, Cleveland and Boston, and later managed Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Cleveland, and Davey Lopes, a major league player who coaches still for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
An interesting aspect of the exhibit is the history of the Negro Leagues in Providence, where black players honed their skills and played before crowds long before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers after World War II.
There are also photos of Little Leagues from city neighborhoods. ``Little League is where all the dreams begin and where the important lessons of baseball are learned,’’ said Aponte.
``Baseball’s storied past in Providence will remain an important part of our social history and our cultural DNA,’’ said Campbell.
If you miss tomorrow night’s reception you can still view the exhibit. It will remain on display until the end of May.