By Courtney Llewellyn
Sock worn by Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling during game two of the 2004 World Series. Photo by Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
Reminder Assistant Editor
Your kids might hear the word "museum" and balk, but you could use that reaction to start the explanation that the museum you're going to isn't full of stationary still-lifes, it's full of interactive science exhibits.
Then you can explain what a balk is in baseball. (It's when a pitcher makes an illegal move which penalizes his team and advances runners on the other team.)
The Museum of Science in Boston will be hosting the last incarnation of the "Baseball as America" tour from now through Sept. 1. The tour is billed as "a national celebration of America's romance with baseball and is a once-in-a-lifetime venture that only the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was capable of creating."
Since the tour began in 2002, showcasing a mere two percent of what is on display at the shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y., it has attracted more than 2.3 million visitors nationwide. The exhibit in Boston is the tour's 15th and final stop.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 12, Hall of Famers Eddie Murrary, Dennis Eckersley, Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski and Bobby Doerr were on hand to help open the exhibit, as were Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, the Museum of Science president; Jane Forbes Clark, chair of the Hall of Fame; John Ferraro, Global Chief Operating Officer of Ernst & Young, the exhibit's sponsor; Dr. James Sherwood, director of the Baseball Research Center at UMass Lowell; and Peter Gammons, ESPN columnist.
"It is fitting to finish [the tour] here in Boston because of the city's passion," Clark said. She described the touring museum as baseball's version of King Tut.
Ferraro said, "We saved the best for last." He noted that Red Sox Nation is alive throughout the United States.
If you're a Red Sox fan -- or just a big baseball fan in general -- this exhibit is a must-see for both young and old. It features a jersey worn by Red Sox pitcher Cy Young, a glove worn by Doerr, a bat used by Ted Williams, a silver bat awarded to 1967 American League MVP Yastrzemski, batting gloves worn by Boggs, Curt Schilling's infamous "bloody sock," the baseball caught by first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out of Boston's 2004 Series sweep, the cap donned by Clay Buchholz in his second major league start, when he no-hit the Baltimore Orioles, a glove worn throughout 2007 World Series by Jonathan Papelbon and so much more.
On top of all the wonderful, historical artifacts, there a variety of interactive displays in "Baseball as America" in the Home Plate Baseball Lab. Visitors can test their reflexes against a 95 mile-per-hour fastball, learn about pitching momentum inside the pitching cage, try out different pitching grips, see what the inside of a baseball looks like, test the difference between aluminum and wooden bats and see how baseballs react to different turfs.
(This reporter personally enjoyed the pitching cage, although my aim wasn't what one would call stellar.)
"Baseball as America" is a great way to share history and fun with your children this summer.
"It is who we are," seminal sportswriter and broadcaster Peter Gammons said of baseball. "It ties people together. When I watch a game, I know what it is to be 12 years old again."
But wait, there's more. Even if there isn't a baseball enthusiast in your family, the museum offers much more. Watch "The Alps" in the Omni Theater in stunning 3-D. Learn "What Happened to Pluto?" in the new planetarium. And really, who doesn't like dinosaurs? Visit "Dinosaurs: Modeling the Mesozoic" to learn the most up to date information about the prehistoric beasts. If you want something tamer, there's the butterfly garden.
See the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator in the Theater of Electricity. Learn how your body works -- from what you put in your mouth to what's inside your genes -- in the Human Body Connection.
A family could easily spend a full day at the Museum of Science, so make sure you stop by the museum cafe to grab some lunch. It offers Mexican, pizza, pasta, salad, fresh fish, sandwiches, ice cream, grilled goodies (including "Hot Dogs as America," which offers guests to savor the flavors of 10 unique hot dogs from across the country) and Starbucks.
The best part of this trip? Even with the air conditioner pumping in your car, you can make it to the museum and back on less than a half tank of gas.
If the traffic's bad, it might take two and a half hours to get to Boston; if the traffic's good, it will still take about three and a quarter hours to get to Cooperstown, and at least 45 minutes of that journey is not highway. (Trust me, I know -- I worked there for five years.)
The Museum of Science is open now through July 4, Saturday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. From July 5 through Labor Day, hours are Saturday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Basic ticket prices for adults (12 to 59) are $17; seniors (60+), $15; and children (three to 11), $14. Combination tickets for up to three shows are extra.
Don't balk at the idea of a museum as a one-day vacation spot -- make a home run with your family this summer.
To learn more about the Museum of Science, visit www.mos.org.