The mission of the Baseball Heritage Museum is to preserve and present the history of diversity in baseball by entertaining, educating, and enlightening the visiting public about the multicultural heritage of baseball and the values it represents.
They were ambitious people, proud of the nicknames like Satch, Double Duty, Fireball and Big Papa. For too many years their stories have not been known. At the Baseball Heritage Museum, the public is able to experience their stories, photographs, letters, programs, uniforms and other game-used treasured memorabilia, which detail the important contributions from the Latin and Caribbean leagues, the Industrial and Barnstormer leagues and the Negro and Women’s leagues that helped shape the history of the great American pastime.
The Baseball Heritage Museum is located at League Park, the original home of Cleveland baseball, in the center of the historic Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the artifacts and stories of baseball’s past with a special focus on diversity in the sport.
The Museum uses the stories of challenge and triumph intrinsic in the stories of the Negro Leagues and other underserved demographics in the sport to take its presence to an additional level. General programming, youth educational offerings, community outreach and other initiatives are driven by the rich repository of life lessons in these stories. The Museum is also a driver of Cleveland’s sense of place, by continuously working to become a center of neighborhood life and a destination location for baseball and history lovers from across the city and across the country.
History of the Museum
In 1997, Bob Zimmer began displaying Negro League Baseball artifacts in his family’s jewelry store on E 4th Street. What was to be a one-time exhibit became so popular with store patrons and baseball fans alike that in a short time the exhibitions became their own museum.
The focus from what began as the Negro League Legends of Baseball expanded to highlight other underserved stories in the history of the sport, and the collection grew to include game treasured memorabilia from the Latina and Caribbean Leagues, the Industrial and Barnstormer Leagues, and the Women’s Leagues.
Soon the telling of the stories surrounding the artifacts became a key component of the Museum’s offerings. In the 2000’s the Museum was rebranded as ‘The Baseball Heritage Museum” at which time it also formalized its commitment to bringing baseball and education together. In 2014, after several years as a presence in the Gateway District, the Museum moved to its current location, the former ticket office at the newly renovated League Park in the historic Hough Neighborhood of Cleveland.
The Museum is now physically positioned to tell its stories of challenge and perseverance from the center of a neighborhood whose own history has many parallels. It also presents the Museum with the opportunity to become a community anchor in the neighborhood’s revitalization. The Museum is committed to expanding its presence and service to the neighborhood and the community. This commitment takes the form of neighborhood focused programming and events, youth education offerings that use the lessons of baseball to teach the lessons of life, and activities for seniors that bring delight as memories come to life.