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Texas Baseball Hall of Fame — Museum News

Where is the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame Museum located?

Since our move to Houston in 2004, we have been working toward building a permanent location for the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame museum. Meanwhile, we have been working with museums in the greater Houston area to showcase special exhibits such as "45" and "Bluebonnet Belles."

Why Is a Texas Baseball Hall of Fame Museum Presence in Houston Important?

Although the answer may seem obvious, I’d like to talk with you for a few moments about why the Board of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame (TBHOF) is giving high priority to the business of finding the best ways and means for establishing a museum in Houston—one which honors Texas baseball history in a first class way. Let’s simply begin with the most apparent needs, as defined by our organizational motto:

“Preserving History... Celebrating Excellence... Baseball Forever.”

“Preserving History” At the present time, we possess a small number of artifacts that are very important to the history of Texas baseball, but the items we now protect in storage pale numerically in comparison to the donations we could obtain, if we had a facility and a professional program established for assuring their proper care and public display. Without such a dedicated plan, thousands of items are disappearing annually. The artifact collection challenge may be summarized clearly here: Before artifacts of Texas baseball history can be preserved, they must survive. Without support for a museum, the battle for artifact survival is lost.

“Celebrating Excellence” Since our 1978 beginning, the TBHOF has existed to honor those who have achieved excellence in Texas baseball history through our annual fall induction banquets. Our new Board is dedicated to making sure that people inducted into the TBHOF truly deserve the accolade by creating a set of standards that significantly raises the bar on qualifications for admission into our state hall of honor. Those of you who may have attended our first induction banquet in Houston last November got a first taste of what we are doing. Our inductions of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Kenny Rogers in 2004 speak plainly by example in support of our goal for celebrating excellence to the greatest extent possible. To perpetuate that celebration, we need a museum for placing on display the names, stories, lists of accomplishments, and artifacts of those we have inducted. Without such a facility, any hall of fame induction is more inclined to flicker away as a brief moment in the sun that quickly fades from public awareness over time. We feel strongly that our TBHOF inductee group deserves better.

“Baseball Forever” Preservation and Celebration are the building blocks of anything humanly worthwhile that lasts and grows over time. A museum provides the essential infrastructure that is needed to make the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame what it can be—and should be—and with your help—will be.

What’s Going On Elsewhere? As far we know, Indiana is the only other state that has a specific baseball hall of fame. You will be able to survey what the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame does by following the link to their site.

The State of Texas has a fine facility in Waco known as the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, which includes baseball, but their broader responsibility to all sports makes it difficult for them to concentrate on baseball as we hope to do in Houston. We have a good history with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, but because we think it’s important to concentrate strictly upon baseball and to be located in Houston, working jointly with the otherwise fine Waco program is not viewed by either of our groups as the desirable way to go. Follow this link if you wish to explore the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

On the Major League city level, a number of cities are light years ahead of where we are presently in Houston. Here are links to the other Major League city and team halls of fame and museums that either focus upon or incorporate baseball history. There may be others, but these are the cities now leading the way in franchise, city, state, and special subject baseball museums:

Cooperstown, NY — National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

St. Louis, MO — St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum

Arlington, TX — Legends of the Game Museum

Atlanta, GA — Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame

Baltimore, MD — Sports Legends at Camden Yards & Babe Ruth Museum

Cincinnati, OH — Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum

Kansas City, MO — Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

When you examine these sites, ask yourselves the same question that we of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame ask of ourselves: Why can’t the dynamic city of Houston lead the way in doing as well and better a job of building a museum for honoring our own local and state baseball history? The answers you come up with may likely match some of elements we know have to be there. To have a legitimate state baseball museum in Houston, we need people who passionately care about the preservation of Texas baseball history; a shared vision for what such a museum can be; a willingness in the community to make it happen; the support of our local movers and shakers; and, of course, that great root of all human material endeavor—money.

Money alone cannot make our museum happen, but the absence of money will only slow us down for as long as it takes to find the kind of support we need to do the job right. We are dedicated to staying after the achievement of this goal like a bulldog for as long as it takes to be heard by those who have both the money and the vision to get this museum off the ground in the right way. And that’s a promise.

What is the TBHOF's vision for this baseball museum? We live in the real world. We are willing to start with whatever we may be able to afford, but we are not willing to sacrifice the integrity of our purpose, nor to abandon our vision for what the museum needs to be because we are short of money now. We will build slowly if need be, but we will keep focused on the goal of building a facility and program which fulfills our purposes of preserving history and honoring excellence in Texas baseball history. That being said, we are open to commercial support to the extent that corporate sponsors understand our strong commitment to tasteful association and presentation of baseball history.

Ideally, we want to be located in downtown Houston, either within or close to Minute Maid Park. We have had some discussion with the Houston Astros over the past sixteen months about working together, but nothing firm is on the table that I am at liberty to speak about at this time. We shall continue to give strong consideration to an alliance with the Astros for as long as these points remain clearly understood and some tangible results can be achieved in the relatively near future: (1.) We do not expect the Astros to foot the bill on the expenses of our operational needs; (2.) We have no interest in being absorbed by the Astros; (3.) We are viewed as a partner in the planning of our working relationship with the Astros for the development of a museum; and (4.) We are not treated as a commodity that is left completely out of the decision making process in planning for a museum.

Anyone with a little money can set aside space, hang a few pictures, and call what they’ve done a museum. That’s not we have in mind, except as a starting point due to funding limitations now.

What we hope to build comes close to the St. Louis model, where the Cardinal Museum employs a full-time curator, a full time historian, and also provides adequate support staff. All artifact donations to the Cardinal Museum are meticulously documented on a computer program that has been especially designed for recording gifts and loans to the museum. In the Cardinal Museum instance, the museum program is supported by the St. Louis Cardinals, other donations, and fees collected from tourist museum admission fees and other special programs of entertainment and education.

The Cardinal Museum does well because the St. Louis Cardinals ownership understands its importance to the preservation of St. Louis, Missouri’s rich baseball history. We need to find an equivalently wise sponsor for our efforts in Houston.

Why? Because some things in life are more important than simply making money. If I thought for a moment that we had run out of people in Houston who understood that truth, I would be ready to bail out of here immediately. All I have to do to know that it’s not true is to examine the success of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Now, if we cannot value the preservation of Texas baseball history on some comparable level, we will not have it for long. In that worst-case scenario, the economic impact upon those who derive their livelihood from baseball rests down the road. If we lose our bond to baseball’s past, the bridge to baseball’s future begins to disappear—and Little League baseball—and distant Cooperstown—will neither be enough to save us from our own shortsightedness.

What can you do to help build the museum? The answer to this question is only limited by your own imagination. We welcome your ideas. We solicit your help as volunteers. We appreciate your interest in becoming sponsors through our Lone Star League. We also would love to speak with you, or anyone you know, who may be able to help us as personal or corporate sponsors on a larger scale.

All I know for sure is that baseball is not exempt from the rules that apply to everything else. Our future, including baseball’s future, is being shaped this very moment by the things we do, and fail to do, now.

The future of baseball no longer feeds on the fiery passion of the sandlot kids who once guaranteed future attendance at professional baseball games. Those who fail to grasp that fact are destined to find within the next 10-20 years that the slickest marketing people in the world will not offset the loss of the sandlot generation at the gate—once we are gone.

Building this museum right is one thing we may be able to do to stem the tide of eventual loss of interest in the game we used to hail proudly as our national pastime.

Let us hear from you.

Bill McCurdy
President/Executive Director
Texas Baseball Hall of Fame

This site was designed for the TBHOF by Debb Harris