Major expansion set at Babe Ruth Museum

March 18, 1991|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Evening Sun Staff

A two-story replica of Memorial Stadium is to highlight the planned $3.3 million expansion of the Babe Ruth Museum in Ridgely's Delight.

Ridgely's Delight is the neighborhood closest to the new Orioles' stadium being built downtown at Camden Yards. The stadium will affect everyone and everything around it, but perhaps nothing as much as the Babe Ruth Museum.

Michael Gibbons, executive director of the museum, says the stadium one block away will transform the museum from one of Baltimore's best-kept secrets to "a blockbuster attraction."

The museum is the birthplace of Babe Ruth, the greatest slugger in baseball. It also contains exhibits relating to the Orioles.

Today, the museum launches a $3.3 million fund-raising campaign to pay for an ambitious expansion into the old Connolly Sign building half a block away. That building is at Portland and Emory streets.

The current museum, at 212-218 Emory St., is to continue to house the Babe Ruth exhibits. The Connolly Sign building is to contain an expanded Orioles' museum as well as exhibits of local amateur baseball, a local broadcasters' hall of fame, and a history of baseball in Baltimore and the Negro Leagues in Maryland.

The expansion also is to have classrooms, a canteen, gift shop and rooftop restaurant. But its main feature is to be the replica of RTC Memorial Stadium.

According to Gibbons, when you enter the museum you will face a two-story model of the outside of Memorial Stadium. Walk down the third-base side and enter the model through the third-base dugout.

Once on the field you will be surrounded by wrap-around photographs by Morton Tadder, a local photographer, of a packed house on 33rd Street. Gibbons says Tadder will take the pictures next month at the final Opening Day at Memorial Stadium.

The model's outfield fence can be removed to accommodate a 220-seat banquet hall, a 300-seat lecture hall or a 500-person stand-up buffet or reception.

Gibbons says he hopes to raise the $3.3 million by the end of this year from local as well as national donors. Larry King, the talk-show host, will head the national campaign, Gibbons says.

The expansion is scheduled to be finished by June 1993, Gibbons says. That's an important date, he adds, because the Orioles, who host the All-Star game that year, want to use the Memorial Stadium model for receptions.

Memorial Stadium opened in 1954. After the Orioles move to their new stadium at Camden Yards, plans call for Memorial Stadium to be torn down.

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