The Houston Sports Museum Is Back!

Rodney Finger Has Reincarnated an Improved Tribute to Houston History at his “new” store on the Gulf Freeway at the Site of Legendary Buff Stadium (1928-61).

Yesterday Bob Dorrill of SABR and I went over to meet with Tom Kennedy, the Curator of the Houston Sports Museum, and to get his tour of what is happening with the newly reopened facility at the also newly remodeled and reopened Finger furniture store at that historical location.

Words alone fail. That’s why you will be getting many photos today. Rodney Finger and Tom Kennedy are pulling out all the stops to make sure that the presentation and artifact preservation issues that plagued the “HSM” in the past are now resolved and replaced by a rotating exhibit of items that are truly unique and valuable to history.

The HSM will keep its historic name and honor its dedication to remembering the Houston Oilers and Earl Campbell as well, but this evolving version of the dream will be mostly about baseball, as was the original intention of 1960s founder and Rodney’s grandfather, Sammy Finger.

Bob Dorrill (L) and Tom Kennedy talk things over in front of a new mural version of Buff Stadium on its original Opening Day, April 11, 1928.

On display are two of the original 80 36″ diameter metal buffalo medallions that once rimmed the exterior perimeter stadium walls of Buff Stadium.

In a DVD narrated by Gene Elston, the story of Houston professional baseball from 1888 forward now plays continuously on a high-definition television set within the museum. Other digital telecasts are planned for inclusion in the future on a rotating basis.

The quiet, classy hand of Houston Astros Acquisitions Director Mike Acosta is also visible in the new HSM on several levels. Acosta has been working with Kennedy to help make the new Finger’s showcase the first order presentation it is fast becoming.

“It’s not how much space you have, but how you use the space you have that matters.” Kennedy and the HSM are dedicated to the idea that choice items, rotated for view on a frequent thematic basis, will help keep giving people reasons to return. The public will have a chance to view the world’s oldest baseball card from 1869 at some undetermined point in the near future.. Rodney Finger has asked card owner JeFF Rosenberg, the owner of Tri Star Productiions, to allow the HSM to display it sometime soon and it is expected that this will happen. Say tuned for further specific details from Tom Kennedy. Everything well done takes time. To better protect historical treasures, HSM also has installed protective lighting to help preserve artifacts and help prevent the fading of important signatures from autographed items. In case you are wondering, that’s an ancient Houston Buffs jersey on display in this photo, along with several books that are important to local baseball history.

The former exact site of home plate is still imbedded in the floor of the HSM. It will soon be joined by the return of the larger than life statue of Dickie Kerr, the late-in-life Houstonian who once pitched as the “honest man in” for the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.

The art of LeRoy Neiman’s Nolan Ryan rises above the lesser light of some dedicated less celebrated Astro heros.

The history of Houston baseball is all here. Look for word of the HSM’s Grand Re-Opening Day, but drop on by anytime now to check the progress. Tommy Kennedy says he has about sixty per cent of their Finger’s items on display and that further acquisitions are planned. It’s a show that will never end or be complete and it’s Houston baseball history in its purest form. The vision of Rodney Finger and the hard work of Tom Kennedy is out there saving the day for something that could have been lost forever. Thank you, Rodney! And you, Tom! The business of museums belongs in the hands of those people of integrity who truly care about history – and you guys are both such folks!

Many of us grew up reading our first baseball game stories from the mind and pen of former Houston Post writer Clark Nealon. It is only right and fitting that the HSM honors the late Nealon in the fine way it does.

There will always be room at the HSM for a fellow named Earl, even if he didn’t play baseball.

Rodney Finger is a man of vision. He took out a wall so that visitors to the new Finger’s store on the Gulf Freeway would have this view of the Houston Sports Museum as they entered the building. Good luck, Rodney! Based upon what we saw in a nearly three-hour meeting with Tom Kennedy yesterday, I think it’s safe to say that Bob Dorrill and I both walked away quite impressed. Know too that we will be around to help you any way we are able – and that we will spread the word to other SABR members about your plans and actions to date.

Have a nice spring day, everybody. We’ll see you at the ballpark soon.

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11 Responses to “The Houston Sports Museum Is Back!”

  1. David Munger Says:

    That is so cool. Can’t wait to see it.

    As always thanks for the INFO.

  2. Bill Gilbert Says:

    This looks like a first class display. I look forward to seeing it.

  3. Bill McCurdy Says:

    In case I didn’t make these facts clear, the Houston Sports Museum is open now. It’s just incomplete of all planned exhibits and there will be a Grand Opening soon. We all will have to wait for the date announcement on that one. Finger Furniture itself is also reopened at this one location on the Gulf Freeway at Cullen, at the same site of the previous store, the former graounds of old Buff Stadium. The stoe itself hs benn remodeled and looks great. It will also have a formal Grand Opening celebration soon. I’m presuming the store celebration and the one for the newly remodeled Houston Sports Museum will happen at the same time, but I don’t know that for sure. Stay tuned.

  4. Zita Witte Says:

    I am so happy the history of sports in Houston has a home. I looks beautiful. Thank you, Bill, for letting us know and thanks to Mr. Finger and Mr. Kennedy for their work and time on this important project.

  5. Shirley Virdon Says:

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of the Houston Sports Museum in its new home. Perhaps Bill and I can visit it when we are in Houston later in the summer.
    I always enjoy your different subjects relating to Houston Sports and especially the baseball ones. Because of our age now we remember most of the ones you comment upon!

  6. john kinebrew Says:

    I just bought a house built in the forties,and uncovered a large number of 50 ,53, news papers printed by the Houston Post,and Houston chronicle. Complete papers,with sports articles and all ,including all the old Fingers Furniture adds, if anyone is interested in this please contact me at the email address above

  7. Historian LAMAR Burks Says:

    Trying to receive updated info regarding Houston sports museum, as to whether it is opened to the club, or still closed. This is February 2016. Please send notification to my email address a, as well as a museum brochure to my home address Springdale elementary school tulsa ok. 74136c/o Lamar burjs

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Lamar –

      Today is Sunday, 2/21/2016.

      Unfortunately, the 2010 resurrection of the HSM closed again permanently in 2013 with the closing of the Finger Furniture store at the old Buff Stadium site. There is no public plan that has been announced for what will happen, if anything, to the Finger Family baseball artifact collection.

      Regards, Bill McCurdy

  8. Larry Nikel Says:

    Hope the museum for Houston sports will stay at the old Fingers store. Is it opened and what are the hours? It needs to be advertised to let people know it exist. Lkn

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Larry, this column is nearly seven years old. Sadly, the reopening of the Finger Museum closed in 2013 when the whole Finger’s store at that location closed permanently. Plans for the museum artifacts are now ambiguous, but they will not be reopened under the Finger family’s ownership or management, Wish we had better news to report in 2017, but that’s the way the worm has turned. Our best hope is that most of these items will be seen again as part of a museum that the Houston Astros may someday install at Minute Maid Park, but we have further word on that possibility at this time. Just don’t give up. There is a small army of people in Houston who are dedicated to the preservation of this great city’s long and rich history with the game of baseball. – So stay tuned. We gotta have heart!

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