Sports Legends makes pitch to football crowd among us

October 19, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

I've reached the age where I'm afraid to go into museums because I'm afraid someone will mistake me for an exhibit, but Mike Gibbons lured me back into Sports Legends at Camden Yards the other day.

It has been six months since the grand opening of the new home of Maryland's sports history, and things are going pretty well. The museum, which is located in the historic Camden Station next to the B&O warehouse, is averaging more than 400 visitors per day, and there haven't been many complaints about the creative presentation of the state's athletic legacy.

Somehow, the museum manages to be fun and reverential at the same time (kind of like this column), the perfect complement to the Babe Ruth Birthplace from which it sprang.

FOR THE RECORD - A column in yesterday's Sports section misidentified the first baseball team to win a best-of-seven league championship series after trailing three games to one. The Kansas City Royals did it in 1985 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Sun regrets the error.

There's only one problem. The baseball season is over and the amount of daily traffic has understandably declined, so Gibbons thought it was a good idea to remind everyone that it isn't just a baseball museum ... and it's not.

"You have to work much harder in the offseason," he said. "We have to compensate with special events and programs. One of the other things we're working on is bringing the football crowd here."

That shouldn't be so hard when you consider that the museum has a fine collection of memorabilia from the old Colts as well as the new Ravens. The tribute to Johnny Unitas is worth the price of admission, and there is much, much more - from the large section devoted to Negro leagues baseball to a terrific University of Maryland collection that even includes the suit Gary Williams wore the night the Terps won the NCAA basketball championship.

Frankly, if I'd known Williams was giving away suits, I might have shown up at more games, but that's not the point. Sports Legends is so new that it still has that new-museum smell, and it's a terrific addition to the Inner Harbor sports complex.

That dramatic Game 5 home run by St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols Monday night brought back memories of a similar moment in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and California Angels, and not just for me.

Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens was in the dugout when Dave Henderson homered off Donnie Moore with the Red Sox down to their last strike, and The Rocket would come up big in Game 7, as Boston became the first team to recover from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven league championship series.

More strange karma: That also was the year the Astros lost one of the most closely contested playoff series in baseball history against the Mets ... and all four cities represented in the 1986 playoffs hosted postseason games this year.

So, I'm listening to 98 Rock the other day and I hear "Kirk and Mark" claiming that USC didn't really pull off one of the most exciting finishes in the history of major college football on Saturday - Notre Dame blew the game.

Never mind that Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart threw the most clutch last-gasp pass since Doug Flutie's famous "Hail Mary" against Miami in 1984. Never mind that Notre Dame played a fantastic game against a double-digit favorite that owns one of the longest college football winning streaks in recent history. . The Irish blew the game? Are you kidding me?

It was the first time I've ever heard anyone lose an argument to Jerry Coleman.

A fan's note: Yes, I'm heartbroken that the Angels will not be hosting the World Series this weekend. No, I don't think they got jobbed. They got spanked by a much better team. The string of bad umpiring decisions was just a sideshow.

Felt sad for Michelle Wie after she was disqualified from her first professional tournament for an illegal drop. Guess I'm not the only one who didn't know it was illegal to pull your ball out from under a bush and drop it closer to the hole. I play golf with WBBF sports anchor Bruce Cunningham, and he does that all the time.

In fact, Cunningham - who doubles as the public address announcer for the Ravens - shaves strokes so regularly that after announcing Todd Heap's touchdown in the first quarter Sunday, he accidentally wrote down four instead of six on his score sheet.

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