Linenberger: Small Kansas town thinking big with baseball museum featuring World Series champion Chicago Cub
There’s a small Kansas town that has taken an idea and, considering the project it is, swung for the fences.
Muscotah is a town of 200 people in Atchison County that has constructed what residents there are touting the world’s largest baseball. The ball is a former water tower tank that earlier this month was painted to resemble a baseball. Rebar was used to create the baseball “stitches,” which volunteers painted red. Additional plans call for a museum inside the “baseball,” as well as a small infield and an outfield fence.
Muscotah resident Jeff Hanson came up with the idea as a way to help sustain the northeast Kansas town, which has two businesses and a post office.
The hook for the baseball museum is that Muscotah is the birthplace of Joe Tinker, a shortstop for the Chicago Cubs when the team won the World Series in 1908. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
I’m a fan of tourism ideas that small-town Kansas communities can bring to life. I’m also a fan of the Chicago Cubs.
According to the Kansas Sampler Foundation website, kansassampler.org, Hanson said it’s hoped the museum might help my Cubs “reverse the curse.”
You see, Tinker’s 1908 championship team is the last one for the Cubs. Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a Cubs’ World Series game against the Detroit Tigers in 1945 at Wrigley Field because he brought his pet goat to the game and the animal’s odor was bothering other fans. He declared that the Cubs weren’t going to win anymore after being given the boot from the game.
The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since. If the museum helps the Cubs win a World Series, I’ll be beyond ecstatic, but the project at hand truly is exciting by itself.
Volunteers from across Kansas — and a few from Arkansas — helped with the first phase of the project May 17-19 to get things started. Included in the work weekend: putting the first paint of coat on the baseball, laying electrical lines to the ball, erecting the outfield fence and painting of a concession stand that will have a mural created on it.
Additional plans call for a scoreboard, vintage advertising on the outfield fence, landscaping and growing of ivy on the fence to mirror the outfield wall ivy that grows at Wrigley Field.
In an effort to further promote the museum, a vintage baseball game between the Hodgeman 9 and the Wichita Redstockings will be played Saturday at Joe Tinker Field in Muscotah.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s planned schedule:
• 1 p.m., Q&A with the Tinkers, city building. The grandson of Joe Tinker and two great-grandsons will be coming to the game from Baltimore. Another grandson is coming from California.
• 3 p.m., local game
• 4 p.m., special presentations and vintage baseball game
• 6 p.m., postgame, food in the city building. Hot dogs, apple pie, and ice cream will be served. Proceeds to benefit the Muscotah Outreach Ladies for community projects.
Admission is free, though donations will be taken. The donations will help pay for a historical baseball mural and other features at the museum.
Visitors are asked to bring lawnchairs and blankets, as there are no bleachers at the ballpark.
Artists Erika Nelson and Matthew Farley of Lucas will be painting the Joe Tinker-themed mural on the concession stand during the day.
The project is a reminder that an idea, no matter how big, can help make a difference in a town, no matter how small.
With that in mind, I challenge Tonganoxie residents to find its hook. What could the community do to attract folks. The city already has name recognition as a community near the Kansas City metro. It’s time to really put the town on the map.
In the meantime, I can’t wait to visit the birthplace of a the shortstop for the Cubs’ last World Series title team. Maybe this new museum truly will reverse the curse.
Not that I’m superstitious.