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Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame

By Samantha Carr Kauffman Stadium Kansas City Sept 2009 - As part of a number of renovations at the ballpark, the Kansas City Royals opened a new Royals Hall of Fame building on July 17, and a few pieces of the Baseball Hall of Fame's collection can be seen there.

 

"There was no question from the second I was asked to take on the Royals Hall of Fame project that I needed and wanted to tap into the resources of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown -- and work with the team there to build a strong partnership," said Curt Nelson, the director of the Royals Hall of Fame.

Nelson visited Cooperstown in August of 2008 and met with many different staff members, from curators to archivists. This knowledge was brought back to the project in Kansas City.

In addition to this visit, the Baseball Hall of Fame loaned artifacts to the Royals Museum for its inaugural season.

"Great stories are the key, but the added 'human element' brought by compelling artifacts makes all the difference in capturing the imagination of our guests," said Nelson. "The Baseball Hall of Fame has been a great partner to help us make sure we can deliver on the added excitement such important artifacts can bring to each story in our displays."

The artifacts on loan include the bat used during the 1980 World Series by Willie Mays Aikens (who twice had two-home run games in the series); the cap worn by Bret Saberhagen on Aug. 26, 1991, when he struck out five and no-hit the White Sox; and the cap worn by Steve Busby on April 27, 1973, when he pitched a no-hitter against the Tigers. In addition, George Brett generously allowed his famed pine-tar bat, ordinarily on loan to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, to be sent to Kansas City for that museum's "rookie season."

"When we received the phone call looking for a loan, we thought sure, absolutely, because we are happy to help out the club that way," said John Odell, curator of history and research for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Odell traveled to Kansas City to attend the opening and oversee installation. He believes that the Royals will see great success in coming years with this addition.

"It was really well done, and the first fans to come through the doors were really raving about it," he said.

The new Hall of Fame does not simply recap the history of the Kansas City Royals but the history of baseball in Kansas City.

"As I like to tell our visitors, baseball in Kansas City didn't start in 1969 -- the Royals are rather the most recent chapter in a long-standing local tradition that now extends back at least 125 years," said Nelson. "We touch on the history and exploits of all professional teams that preceded the Royals in Kansas City dating back to 1884."

The museum is open year-round and shares a common mission with the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"We want to serve the role of bringing the history of baseball in general to the ballpark and hopefully whet the appetite for more by encouraging fans to visit Cooperstown and other places where the story of the game is told," said Nelson.

Odell agrees that the partnership formed between these two institutions is a natural fit.

"This was just a great opportunity to support another like-minded institution out there preserving baseball history."