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Thursday, March 30, 2017 12:09 am

Cubs and Cards face off at ALPLM

Game-worn jerseys of Rogers Hornsby and Lou Brock. Each man played for both the Cubs and Cards during Hall of Fame careers.
PHOTO COURTESY ALPLM

 

For generations, fans of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals have drawn battle lines throughout central and southern Illinois. Thanks to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM), fans of both teams have the chance to proclaim their allegiances.

The “Cubs vs. Cardinals: The Rivalry” exhibit opened at the ALPLM March 24. Pictures and rare artifacts gathered specifically for the purpose of this exhibit were loaned by the Cubs, Cardinals, Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For older fans and history buffs, the exhibit is a tribute to the days of yesteryear where they can relive unforgettable moments that shaped both franchises. For younger fans, it provides an opportunity to learn the history behind two of baseball’s storied franchises and fiercest rivalries.

Tom Shieber, senior curator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Samuel Wheeler of the ALPLM organized the exhibit together. Shieber expressed his enthusiasm about the project in a press conference. “The ALPLM contacted the Hall of Fame two years ago and pitched the idea of hosting a Cardinals-Cubs exhibit, which I thought was a fantastic idea,” Shieber said. “I’m a native of St. Louis, born and raised, so I have that angle, but my favorite thing to do growing up was driving to Chicago. I have those two cities in my veins, so it was a thrill to be able to do this.”

One of the oldest artifacts is the original 1913 lease granted by the city of Chicago to the Cubs to construct Wrigley Field. “We borrowed this from the Cubs organization. This lease gave them the ability to build Wrigley Field on that property, and this right here is just an amazing piece of Chicago Cubs history,” said Wheeler.

A jersey Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial wore during the 1946 season is also on display. That year, Musial won the National League MVP, as well as the National League batting title and the World Series, the Cardinals’ third championship in five years. “In 1945, Musial didn’t play for the Cardinals,” Wheeler explained. “World War II was taking place and he volunteered for the Navy. When he came back, this is the jersey that he wore, when he won the MVP and led the Cardinals to another world championship. It’s an amazing piece of St. Louis Cardinals history and baseball history. However, when you think about that context, that’s a piece of American history right there.”

Baseball sign used at Wrigley Field during the early part of the 20th century.
PHOTO COURTESY ALPLM
Additionally, an interactive exhibit using data compiled by Major League Baseball reveals the percentage of Cardinals fans vs. Cubs fans across the state of Illinois. Visitors have the chance to look up their hometowns in addition to other areas in the state.

Over the course of their respective histories, the Cubs and Cardinals have been home to the game’s most impactful broadcasters. Jack Buck, Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray became voices for multiple generations. The exhibit includes a special section dedicated to these announcers, highlighting their influence to not only the Cubs and the Cardinals, but to baseball as a whole. “Harry Caray was probably my favorite announcer of all time. I remember running home from grade school during the 1980s to catch the very last couple of innings of a Cubs broadcast,” Wheeler said. “I ran home so I could listen to Harry. He was so colorful, so funny, you never really knew what he was going to talk about, and to me, that was the voice of baseball. He was a fan, first and foremost.”

Other items at the exhibit include the base stolen by former Cub and Cardinal great Lou Brock to break the single-season steals record and a base used during last year’s World Series, where the Cubs ended its 108-year championship drought. Additionally, the exhibit houses a helmet Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa wore during the historic 1998 season, when he and Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire captured the country’s attention in their quest to break the record for the most home runs hit in a single season. The home plate McGwire stepped on when he broke the home-run record is also on display. “When you come into this exhibit, whether you are a Cardinals, Cubs or baseball fan, your jaws are going to hit the floor,” Wheeler said. “These institutions have opened up their vaults for us, and we are so fortunate to put on this exhibit.”

“Cubs vs. Cardinals: The Rivalry” runs through the rest of the calendar year. The exhibit includes no extra fee, as it is part of the museum’s general admission price.

Alex Camp is an editorial intern at Illinois Times. He is pursuing his master’s degree at University of Illinois Springfield. Contact him at intern@illinoistimes.com

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