Posts Tagged ‘Finger’s’

The Houston Sports Museum Is Back!

March 31, 2010

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.