A love of baseball prompted a trio of educators to use their personal collections as the core of a growing 'Baseball and the Berkshires' exhibit.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new exhibit at Herman Melville's Arrowhead was created by baseball fans for everyone else.
You do not have to love America's pastime to enjoy "Baseball and the Berkshires: A County's Common Bond," currently on display in the barn at the Holmes Road museum.
"Just as we were finishing up doing the exhibit, a young woman came in and found a Pittsfield Mets cap," recalled Tom Daly, one of the three creators of the exhibit. "She said to the person she was with that she didn't care about baseball but she had a water bottle with that emblem and always wondered what it meant."
That water bottle, or that box of baseball cards in your attic or that dusty baseball signed by long-forgotten members of a championship team are all part of a common fabric that runs through the community.
And it is that fabric that is the real subject of "Baseball and the Berkshires."
"Larry [Moore], Andy [Mickle] and I talked about the idea of looking at baseball in the area and wanted to find a way to connect to all of the population in the county," Daly said.
"We didn't look to the history of baseball in Berkshire County or the history of the sport in general. We wanted to see how the sport connects different generations together and intersects the lives of people who may not even consider themselves fans of baseball."
The three partners are well acquainted with teaching about history. Moore is an educational consultant with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Mickle is a teacher at Pittsfield's Stearns Elementary School, and Daly is the curator of education at Stockbridge's Norman Rockwell Museum.
Together, the trio had a trove of local baseball artifacts in their personal collections. When they first talked about offering the display to the public, they were not sure where that exhibit might find a home.
"We were open to anything," Moore said. "Tom spoke to the Berkshire Historical Society and called and told us they were excited about the idea."
The Historical Society, which had historic uniforms of its own to add to the collection, has agreed to move the exhibit from the barn to the main house at Arrowhead for summer 2016, Moore said. The move will give the exhibit more space, which is good, because part of the mission is to attract donated and loaned items from Berkshire County residents.
That process already has begun. Miss Hall's School, just down the road from Arrowhead, has contributed photographs of the all-girls school's students playing baseball in dresses. Moore said he has read about the school fielding multiple teams as early as 1905.
Daly, who uses baseball to engage his elementary school students on topics ranging from architecture to civil rights, told how an acquaintance found Randy Wallingford, who was the winner of a 2006 poetry contest with his work, "The Grand Slam!" Wallingford donated a framed version of the work to the exhibit.
The more people learn about "Baseball and the Berkshires," the more items the organizers expect to add.
The trio is looking forward to getting their hands on everything they can find to fill up the new space for next summer.
"I think we'll be as busy as any minor league team this winter running around and getting all the items together," Daly joked.
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