SPRINGFIELD — Is the Cubs vs. Cardinals: The Rivalry exhibit Redbirds-centric?
You'd think the last Cubs rookie of the year was the late Ken Hubbs in 1962, judging by the photos on display. You have St. Louis first-year phenoms Wally Moon (1954), Bake McBride (1974) and Vince Coleman (1985) all pictured and identified, for example. But no photos of Cubs worthies Jerome Walton (1989) and Geovany Soto (2008).
Sure, three of the four creators of the exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum — state Historian Dr. Samuel Wheeler, Senior Curator of the St. Louis Hall of Fame Museum Paula Homan and Curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Tom Shieber — are Cardinal fans.
But the Cubs came into the project at a distinct disadvantage regardless, said Lydia Wahlke, Cubs vice president/general counsel. Previous owners, she said, paid little heed to preserving archives and memorabilia, unlike other teams, such as St. Louis, which has a top-flight museum.
When Wahlke came into the organization seven years ago with the Ricketts family ownership, she said the question became: “Where's our stuff?”
The Cubs, who play in the only Federal League park still in existence, are three decades behind the Cardinals in amassing a collection. The “stuff” the franchise has retrieved is finally being displayed in every nook and cranny of Wrigley Field — a museum in itself.
Participating in the Springfield exhibit could be the start of something big, Wahlke hinted during an Evening with the Creators on May 16 in the presidential museum's Union Theater.
“This is a bit of a coming-out party for us,” said Wahlke while introducing Kris Maldre Jarosik, assistant director of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field archives. Wahlke suggested the team could continue building on the displays Cubs officials placed below Wrigley's Budweiser Bleachers after last year's renovation.
Display cases include photos of members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, prize fights and hockey games Wrigley hosted and the Chicago Bears (who formerly played at Wrigley) as well as team memorabilia.
She encourages fans to contact the Cubs if they would like to see more.
Any more and it could start looking like a museum.
There also are 15 placards and plaques in honor of Cubs heroes such as Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler, Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, among others, near the new visitors bullpen on the main concourse beneath the stands.
It resembles, if not a Hall of Fame, a Walk of Fame.
Fans currently can view the collection with a game ticket, said Kevin Saghy, Cubs assistant director of communications. On non-game days or before a game, fans can take a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of historic Wrigley Field. Details about the tours are at www.cub.com/tours.
Image that. They offer guided tours, too.