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Traveling baseball exhibit slides into Park City

Puerto Rican player chat before the 2018 All-Star game in Washington D.C.
Jack Footer
Puerto Rican player chat before the 2018 All-Star game in Washington D.C.

Baseball has been an iconic American sport since 1846. Over the last century, baseball’s popularity has spread around the world. A Smithsonian exhibit at the Park City Museum explains how Latin American influence has changed the game.

¡Pleibol! En los Barrios y las Grandes Ligas! That translates to Playball! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues, which is the current traveling exhibit at the Park City Museum.

The museum was not originally going to get the exhibit, which comes from the Smithsonian’s traveling collection. It had been booked solid at other venues. But a fortuitous cancellation wound up benefitting Park City, which opened the exhibit October 29.

The exhibit highlights how Latinos, Latinas, and Latin American culture have impacted and changed the game through the years.

Museum Curator of Collections and Exhibits Courtney Titus said Latin American contributions to the game are significant.

“And it's a great way to showcase the talent that Latinos and Latinas bring to the game. And I think, you know, that was one of their goals, at least, was just to showcase those players that have been playing and gaining headlines for years and years and just to bring some recognition to them and what they have brought to the game.”

This exhibit is a collaboration between 14 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Over four years between 2015 and 2018, Smithsonian curators traveled all around the country to gather stories from people in local communities about playing baseball.

Titus added that even though this exhibit talks about well-known players like Jackie Robinson and Pedro Martínez it also highlights lesser-known aspects of the game like the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).

“A lot of Latinos and Latinas who were forming, local leagues were working in factories or in fields, really long days, a lot of hard work. And they use baseball as a fun outlet. You know, to socialize and to do something that they loved. They would often transfer the skills that they had and used in their work life to the game of baseball, so they would either make their own equipment or alter equipment, to suit their needs to play the game.”

The exhibit will run until December 18.

The museum is open seven days a week 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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