June 5, 2019

New Jersey Baseball History Is Topic of Morven Exhibit

IT STARTED IN NEW JERSEY: Among the objects on display at Morven’s new exhibit is this hand-colored Currier & Ives lithograph dated 1866, and titled “The American National Game of Baseball: Grand Match for the Championship at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, N.J.”

By Anne Levin

It’s baseball season at Morven Museum & Garden, where an exhibit on the history of the game — specifically in New Jersey — opens Thursday, June 6 and runs through October 27. “New Jersey Baseball: From the Cradle to the Major Leagues, 1855-1915” marks such notable firsts as the founding of the first African American club, the first inter-scholastic game, and some of the earliest documented women’s games.

The show “tells the story of the important role New Jersey plays in the history of early organized baseball, and uncovers some of the myths surrounding its origins,” said Jill Barry, Morven’s executive director.

The public is invited to the opening reception, which is free and begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The following Thursday, June 13, “Talking Baseball with Bob Ryan and Art Shamsky” is a special event moderated by New Jersey sportswriter Bill Glovin. A question-and-answer session with Shamsky, outfielder on the 1969 Mets World Series winning team, and Ryan, a celebrity journalist and ESPN sports reporter, will follow. Admission is $20 ($15 for members). For $100, fans can attend a private reception before the event. A copy of the book that accompanies the exhibit, A Cradle of the National Pastime: New Jersey Baseball, is included.

John Zinn, a vintage baseball historian and the co-curator of the exhibit, is the author of the book. It is the focus of an event Saturday, June 15 at 2 p.m. “Inside Early New Jersey Baseball with John Zinn,” Admission is $20 ($15 for members).

According to Debi Lambert-Rudman, Morven’s curator of education and public programs, there is considerable excitement around the June 13 event. “Bill Glovin is a huge fan, and he will ask the questions people think about but never get to ask,” she said. “A key part of the conversation will be about Shamsky’s book After the Miracle: The Lasting Brotherhood of the ’69 Mets, which came out in March.”

The book is an inside account of the consistently last-place team and how they turned things around in just one season. Shamsky and teammates including Tom Seaver, who now suffers from dementia, reminisce about what happened then and where they are today. “It’s also a buddy story,” said Lampert-Rudman. “When they knew Seaver wasn’t well, they went across the country to see him. It’s a best-seller and it has something for everybody, not just baseball fans.”

Programming throughout the run of the exhibit “covers history in such a way that you really get to the humanity of it,” said Lampert-Rudman. “There are a lot of stories here that have never been told. We’ll be busting myths. People think they know how baseball started, but they’ve got to come to find out the real story.”
Morven is at 55 Stockton Street. Visit www.morven.org for information.