Hall of Fame shoots, scores Lacrosse: Baltimore is home to the nation's lacrosse museum, which has reopened after an expansion that allows more artifacts from the sport's long history to be displayed.

March 15, 1998|By JACKIE POWDER | JACKIE POWDER,SUN STAFF

The name of the new governing body formed by a dozen lacrosse organizations in the United States is USLacrosse. The name was incorrect in an article in last Sunday's Maryland section.

The Sun regrets the error.

If you get excited about a pair of dirty brown leather lacrosse shoes from 1940, if you're fascinated by the construction of a lacrosse stick, if you get worked up over a Harvard lacrosse team sweater soiled by "original mud from 1897," there is a place for you.

The expanded Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame opened yesterday in Baltimore, when Jim Potter, former University of Virginia All-American and member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, took a "shot on goal" before about 200 lacrosse fans in front of the museum entrance next to the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood Field.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Baseball has Cooperstown, N.Y., basketball has Springfield, Mass., and lacrosse has Baltimore.

Lacrosse has long had a hold on this city and state, where matches at Homewood Field can draw thousands of fans. Now the sport has a home that reflects the passion and sense of tradition felt by its local supporters.

The expanded museum on University Parkway is the culmination of two years of work by Baltimore's lacrosse community to enlarge the museum, built in 1991. Its organizers raised $1.4 million to fund the project. The new 12,000-square-foot addition doubled the museum space and allowed room for cherished lacrosse artifacts -- old uniforms, pictures and equipment -- that had been stored in the athletic center at Johns Hopkins.

The museum's grand opening was scheduled during an afternoon break in a lacrosse doubleheader at Homewood Field.

"I didn't know this collection existed," said Barry Lewy of Baltimore, as he pressed his face to the glass exhibit case to get a closer look at a picture of the Johns Hopkins 1902 lacrosse team.

"It's marvelous," Lewy said. "I've been to hundreds of games here, and I never came to the museum."

Yesterday, college lacrosse players wandered around the museum in their school jackets -- Hartwick, Syracuse, Roanoke. Players marveled at an exhibit of the evolution of the lacrosse stick, featuring an 1884 wood and gut stick used by Henry Penniman and a sleek 1998 plastic model of the Brine Edge Ice. Lacrosse fans looked for their friends and teammates in the Hall of Fame Room honoring 260 players from across the country.

"To us it's a wonderful shrine to the sport of lacrosse, which is in Maryland's blood," said Steve Stenerson, executive director of USA Lacrosse, the governing body of lacrosse that was formed in January when about a dozen lacrosse associations merged. The headquarters is at the museum.

"Now the museum is part of a much larger organization which oversees and coordinates every aspect of the game throughout the United States," Stenerson said.

Native American roots

Museum exhibits depict the sport's Native American roots, with a display on the craft of stickmaking and a wall mural that portrays a lacrosse competition between the Creek and Choctaw tribes in 1790.

A display devoted to women's lacrosse features a blue tunic from a 1951 women's touring team and a picture from the 1928 team at the Bryn Mawr School. The private Baltimore girls' school was home to the first women's lacrosse team, established in 1926.

In the Hall of Fame room, lacrosse worshipers looked for their idols.

"He was an amazing midfielder," said one young man, referring to former University of Maryland standout Frank Urso.

Bob Shriver, a lacrosse coach at Boys' Latin, pointed to the Hall of Fame picture of Milton E. "Butch" Hilliard.

"He was a fabulous goalie," Shriver said.

"I played with his son up in Rochester," said Greg Clements, 29, looking at a photo of Chief Oren R. Lyons of Rochester, a former Native American lacrosse star.

"I played in the North-South game in 1991 when they opened the original museum," said Clements, a coach at Ohio Wesleyan University who was in town for a game. "There's a little more to look at here."

Local inductees

Some other lacrosse luminaries in the Hall of Fame include A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the former Baltimore investment banker who works for the Central Intelligence Agency; James Brown, who played football for the Cleveland Browns and excelled at lacrosse for Syracuse University; and the late William "Dinty" Moore, who played for Johns Hopkins and coached at St. Johns College and the U.S. Naval Academy, both in Annapolis.

A highlight of yesterday's opening was the presence of John "Wes" Patterson, 72, who taught lacrosse in the Baltimore County public school system from 1950 to 1970 and developed Little League lacrosse in Baltimore.

'Game for elite'

Patterson, a Native American, moved to Baltimore after graduating from Springfield College in Massachusetts because he had heard Baltimore was a lacrosse town. But he found that the sport was largely limited to private schools.

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