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05-12-2006, 11:17 AM
Baseball Exhibition Celebrates Bosox-Yankee Rivalry- May 12, 2006

The Berkshire Museum in downtown Pittsfield will team up with the city’s celebration “Art Of The Game” with a special exhibition opening June 3.

Baseball: The Art of the Game will feature memorabilia, including game-worn uniforms, equipment, and photographs, related to legendary sports figures such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams. Also on view will be photographs by artist David Levinthal. The common theme uniting the art and historic artifacts is the famous rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

"Here in Western Massachusetts we are definitely a part of Red Sox Nation, but our proximity to the New York border means that there are plenty of Yankee fans around," said Stuart A. Chase, executive director of the Berkshire Museum. "What better place to explore this great rivalry. At the same time we also combine two elements of our mission--art and history--by telling this baseball story through both historic objects and an artist's interpretation."

The show includes seventeen objects from the private collection of Stephen Wong. Based in Hong Kong, Wong holds one of the world's most extensive collections of baseball memorabilia and is the author of Smithsonian Baseball. Highlights include:

* an early 1930s Yankees hat, game-worn by Lou Gehrig;

* Ted Williams' game-worn, home uniform from the 1950 and 1951 season; and

* Joe DiMaggio's game-used bat from the 1949 All Star Game at Ebbets Field.

Also on view will be game-worn jerseys of Yogi Berra and Dom DiMaggio, and a full uniform game-worn by Bobby Doerr.

In addition to the uniforms, the show features an American League Ban Johnson baseball, circa 1927, autographed by both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

The exhibition also includes a number of original photographs, including a panoramic photograph of opening day at Fenway Park on April 20, 1912. The game that day pitted the Boston Red Sox against the New York Highlanders. Five photographs of Babe Ruth include two by George Grantham Bain, known to many as “The Father of News Photography,” from 1919 and 1920. Another classic photo of the Bambino is an original news photograph from 1920, depicting Ruth outside a Boston cigar store, selling his “Babe Ruth” Cigars. Photographer George Burke was known for presenting the lighter side of ballplayers, as evidenced in an early 1930s photograph of a grinning Lou Gehrig.

The above items from the Stephen Wong Collection will be on view through mid-August. The remainder of the exhibition is on view June 3 through October 29, 2006.

David Levinthal (b. 1949) collects toys and figurines that he assembles into tableaus evoking powerful historical and cultural themes. His Baseball series features figures of Carlton Fisk, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Pedro Martinez, and other athletes. Levinthal’s large scale, 20-inch by 24-inch photographs are taken with a Polaroid Land Camera.

“I am careful to make visible the seams of simulation,” says Levinthal. “Probing the nature of such pervasive imagery, as it has been transmitted, filtered, and blurred in films, television, books, and magazines, I nevertheless try to evoke the genuine emotions that any of us can attach to an entirely artificial world.”

Levinthal’s photographs have tackled subjects ranging from Barbie to the Wild West to Nazi Germany. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museums including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; the International Center of Photography, New York; The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Also featured in Baseball is a selection of memorabilia on loan from the Cormier Art Gallery in Pittsfield. These include a wood engraving of the 1883 world champion Boston Red Stockings from Harper’s Weekly; a panoramic photo of a barnstorming team at Stanley Park in Pittsfield, circa 1900-1910; an autographed photograph of Ted Williams; a “Go Sox” poster autographed by Jerry Remy, and original prints by Hall of Fame artist Mike Schacht.

The exhibition will be mounted in two hallway galleries—one painted Red Sox red, the other in the blue-gray color of the Yankees away uniforms.

Related Programs

The exhibition will premiere at the special event, “Take Me Out,” on Friday, June 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. The evening will feature baseball-themed music, and ballgame inspired hors d’oeuvres such as gourmet mini-hot dogs, as well as beer, wine, cocktails, and sweets. Reservations to the June 2 event are $55 ($40 for members); “Center Field supporter” tickets, which include a special gift bag, are also available for $100 each. To order tickets, call 413-443-7171, extension 10.

The June 2 event also kicks off a unique fundraiser. Attendees will have an opportunity to purchase tickets to an array of exclusive dinners, day trips, and private tours offered throughout Berkshire County. Tickets to these programs range from $25 to $200, and space is limited. All proceeds benefit the Berkshire Museum’s educational programs. “Take Me Out” is sponsored by: Nacona Athletic Goods Company; General Systems, Inc.; KB Toys; Time Warner Cable; Girardi Distributors LLC; and the Pittsfield Dukes. For a complete catalog or more information, call 413-443-7171, extension 10.

On “opening day” for Pittsfield’s Art Of The Game, Saturday, June 17, the Berkshire Museum will offer free admission from 3 to 5 p.m. At 3 p.m., baseball historian John Thorn will give the lecture, “The Old Ball Game: Baseball and the Berkshires.” His topic will be the 1791 Pittsfield ordinance that is the first documentation of baseball play in America and other milestones of Berkshire baseball history. At 4 p.m., Stephen Wong will give a gallery talk about his collection, followed by a book signing.

Monday, July 17, will be Berkshire Museum Day at Waconah Park. The Pittsfield Dukes will play Newport, RI, at 7 p.m. Berkshire Museum members will receive $1 off tickets, and giveaways and promotions are planned.

Throughout Baseball, the Berkshire Museum Shop will offer Nakona baseball and softball gloves for children and adults, and a variety of other related products. Nakona’s hand-sewn leather gloves are the only baseball gloves still made in the United States. The shop will also feature signed copies of Wong’s Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections.

Art Of The Game celebrates the creativity of the region’s artists, citizens, and schools with baseball-themed art, summer art shows, ball games, and performances. Watch as Pittsfield’s downtown streets are transformed into a baseball playground of sights and sounds, attracting visitors from near and far to experience the Berkshires’ baseball heritage. For more information, visit artofthegame.org.

Also on view at the Berkshire Museum this summer will be Bug Out of the Box: Contemporary Art, History, and Science of Bugs, July 8 through October 29, 2006.

The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in Downtown Pittsfield. The galleries are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Berkshire Museum at (413) 443-7171, ext. 10, or visit berkshiremuseum.org.