I’ve been kicking around this idea for the better part of a decade. It took until this week for me to jot it all down. The principle is simple. Like most museums, circulation is meant to flow in specific directions, though it’s not rigid.
The premise is simple. You start off in the rotunda area, which would be paved with bricks of leading donors. You enter to the right and reach the on-deck circle. Once there, you can either go to the restaurant or forward into the main hall. Follow the diamond to check out the franchise’s great managers, or go left to check out catchers and pitchers. Dressed-up lockers would contain exhibits for hall-of-famers or other greats. Round first and you can split off into either infielders or outfielders. End the tour with exhibits for owners and general managers (does Connie Mack get two exhibits?), or walk along the outer wall to go over the franchise’s entire history. Various islands throughout would have educational information about baseball for children, and the whole experience would be accompanied by custom iPad/iPhone apps. There’s also a theater for multimedia presentations.
While the layout is for a single-story building, it could be vertically aligned to as many as four floors with a smaller footprint if there were site size constraints. The flex space shown could be used for offices and for traveling exhibits such as those sponsored by MLB. There would have to be heavy coordination with the Bay Area Sports of Hall of Fame, which has no specific home and has spread out its inductee plaques at venues all over the Bay Area.
Then there’s the problem of running a museum. I don’t have any doubt that an A’s museum would be able to attract enough startup money or fill an endowment for the establishment of the museum. Ongoing operating costs to can be difficult to manage. It’s enough to create all sorts of financial difficulties 3, 5, 10 years down the road. It’s not realistic to expect the franchise to cover the budget, because franchises tend to throw most of their money and resources at the on-field product and run everything else as lean as they can afford to. Unless the museum makes money (an almost guaranteed “no”), there’s little reason to justify it. It’s with that sobering realization that I know that a museum isn’t terribly likely. Still, I can dream. And if shooting this high ultimately means settling for a great set of monuments at a future ballpark, that’s fine with me.
Now for some input from you. I’d like to frame this discussion around a set of questions. If I like your responses I’ll post them here within the post body.
- How would you organize the exhibits at an A’s museum?
- How much attention would you pay to the franchise’s stints in Philadelphia and especially Kansas City?
- How does the steroid era and its A’s notables get treated?
- How large of an exhibit should each HoFer get?
- Should there be an exhibit devoted to the designated hitter?
- What kinds of kid-friendly exhibits and attractions should the museum have?
- Should there be an exhibit containing other great Bay Area players who never played for the A’s?
If you have other questions you’d like to pose, put them in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.
I went to the King Tut exhibit in SF a couple years ago, and it was essentially a one-way trip through different rooms with themes or some kind of connection. Some were small, some were long, some were weird shaped, but pretty much all of them had doors on either end and a one-way direction of travel. I think I would organize the exhibits by era, allowing the patrons to short-cut a little to avoid walking the entire route, kinda like navigating IKEA.
I would definitely have room for Philadelphia and Kansas City, obviously with the former being given more space since there is so much more to it. The Philadelphia room would have a very nostalgic feeling with the music and sounds of the time, perhaps as if it were coming from a little radio, and the room given a clean look. The KC room could be small and enclosed and quiet. Dim overhead lights, with spots on the exhibits. It would be set up as a little interlude, perhaps just a hallway and a foreshadowing, before the patron leaves into an explosion of color and sounds, a veritable party of the 70’s Dynasty. Finley would have to have his own section, with all his crazy gimmicks and ideas and proposed rule changes, successful or not. From there the 80’s, the ’88-’90 teams, and obviously a little sections for Rickey, Eck, etc.. The last few sections would be the Big Three and teams they helmed, probably ending with the era covered by the Moneyball book. The last sections don’t have to be big, just some stuff up to the current day. The last section could be about the stadium in it’s different stages of being built, and a look to the future. In short, it should be an experience of the story of the franchise.
I would also add a section as separate (or as a bridge between some other sections) for the minor leagues over the years. It would make sense to also do a general Bay Area room for independents, past and present, even if they were not affiliated with the A’s.
For the steroid era, you can’t just forget that it happened. I think a neutral mention of it would be fine, especially since at least two of our star players were involved. The HOF players should get their own corner of the room for their era or a couple glass cases to showcase their accomplishments. The DH players should be there, especially since Finley pushed it. It may not be a position, but it’s a job.
For kids, I think a picture booth with period costumes/uniforms/backgrounds would be neat. Some interactive exhibits like a batting cage and pitch speed gun. A guess the player, showing pictures of players from all eras. A trivia sheet with questions that could be answered by going through the museum.
I’m sure I’ll think of more things as soon as I post this. 🙂
For any baseball museum, as to steroid-era players: Don’t give them any special treatment. During that era mlb and Selig, the owners and front offices, the managers and coaches and trainers, the writers, the players generally, and the fans — in decreasing order of culpability — treated them simply as players, The real question, I guess, is where and how to address the steroid era at all. The simplest graph of it I’ve ever seen charts the number of 40 HR hitters per years.
Address the steroid era? How about a big picture of the Bash Brothers with a caption saying “Trailblazers”
ML Great Idea ! – Hope something like this happens for all of us.
I’m thinking a designated wall covered in “back acne” that could also serve as a rock climbing wall for the kids. It would pay tribute to the steroid era, be educational AND fun!
I want to see a Bay Area Baseball Museum, because there’s too much good stuff around here to leave out. Of course there’s dedicated space to the A’s and Giants (we’ll take the high road), but other Bay Area greats who played elsewhere (F Robinson, DiMaggio, Rollins etc.), PCL teams, minor leagues, and great amateur teams and programs.
I can’t talk to specific layout until I have a building, but I like the ML plan for the BABHOF (Bay Area Baseball Hall of Fame). In fact I’d really like to see a Virtual Reality center that would put me in the center of the field with the team of my choice. I could bat against Lefty O’Doul at Oaks Park or Turn a Double Play with Mike Gallego at Seals Stadium. Hopefully this would also bring in some tech dollars.
There should be a room dedicated to Shooty Babbit’s suits.
In exchange for the SJ TR rights the A’s must open this bay area baseball museum that prominently features the Giants.
Get Lew Wolff on the phone!!
Kinda disappointed with all the “this ownership never promotes the past, the legacy, the history of the franchise” comments we hear, no one else has stepped forward with their museum ideas.
I shall accept your challenge 😛 haha. Accusing ownership of NEVER promoting the history of the franchise is, I agree, certainly unwarranted, as my experience at yesterday’s Throwback Thursdays game can attest to (and a great win that was, btw. Go A’s!). Its unfortunate that all the positive things that the ownership HAS been doing to celebrate the franchise gets lost in all the negativity surrounding the ballpark issue and our failures on the field.
That being said however, there still is room for improvement. Having these one-off promotions and throwback nights can only celebrate so much. What the A’s currently lack (and have seemingly shown disinterest in) is some form of permanent, comprehensive displays and/or exhibits commemorating their history.
All these museum ideas are definitely a step in the right direction, and I understand that most of them are probably intended to be, or more appropriate for implementing in a new ballpark/separate location. But that doesn’t mean ownership can’t take any of these actions now. There are plenty of relatively simple things LW/JF can do right now to better celebrate the franchise, without breaking the bank.
I recall ML’s post a while back about “sprucing up” the Coliseum (https://newballpark.org/2011/08/16/sprucing-up-the-girl/); temporary banners and/or murals that chronicle significant moments in A’s history, or something similar to what they’ve done for the new STH entrance, applied to the entire park could be one option that would also carry the added benefit of improving (even if ever so slightly) the overall aesthetic appeal of the Coliseum.
Another idea could be to convert an unused suite or event space into a sort of mini-museum. Granted, I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what the cost and feasibility of creating such a place would be, but I think it would be a pretty cool idea. The team could display trophies and other various types of memorabilia. They could even charge a small admission fee to generate some extra revenue if need be. Once a new ballpark opens, the museum could be easily transplanted into a new space there, if they wish to do so.
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