In The News

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition arrives at R.I. Library

This article appeared in the Quad Cities Times

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Celebrating Sports arrives at Rock Island Public Library this week

Rock Island, IL: Hometown Teams hits home this week as the traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program officially arrives at the Rock Island Public Library’s Main Branch, 401 19th Street, Rock Island, IL. For six weeks, from Sept. 13 to Oct. 25, the Rock Island Library will serve as the new home for “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” as well as a number of local sports history exhibits and programs.

The exhibit will be available for viewing on Saturday, Sept. 13, following an 11:00 am opening day ceremony. Events include an official tape break by local athletes, performances by a drum line and pep band from Moline High School, an 11:00 am baseball story time and craft in the Children’s Room with a visit from Rascal the River Bandit, and a “tailgate” celebration with hot dogs, chips and Cracker Jacks in the library parking lot off 20th Street. The exhibit will be open for tours following the opening ceremony, which is free and open to the public.

Offered in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council, the Smithsonian exhibit is arranged in seven parts on the library’s first and second floors. “Hometown Teams” covers the big picture concepts of how sports shapes our lives, unites us, and celebrates who we are as Americans. Highly interactive exhibit sections highlight the connection between sports and popular culture, the ‘fields of glory’ where hometown teams play, the fan experience, what’s involved in playing the game, rooting for the home team, and the future of sports, including a current revolution in sports.

Local exhibits carry through the exhibit themes, with display panels on the Rock Island Independents football team, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and QC Thunder basketball teams, Illinois high school and college teams, historic stadiums and fields, including Douglas Park. Local residents have also loaned memorabilia for display from their own sports pasts. Artifacts include a Quad City Thunder trophy and uniforms from the DeLong family, a 1937 game ball from St. Joseph’s School (a predecessor to Alleman High School), and items from Dennis Nelson’s two games as a replacement NFL referee.

Other free events include a number of free programs on the exhibit’s local theme of the “Small Town Roots of Big Time Sports.” Programs at the Rock Island Main Library include:

Tuesday, Sept. 16: Start your Engines – Motorsports in the Quad Cities,
2:30 pm, Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street. History of QC auto racing, with Roger Ruthhart.

Monday, Sept. 22: Women Who Played Baseball, 6:30 pm, Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. A look at barnstorming ‘bloomer girl” baseball teams before World War II, with Illinois Humanities Council road scholar Barbara Gregovich.

Thursday, Sept. 25: Small Stadium, Big Time Football; RI Independents of the NFL, 6:30 pm, Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street. A look at the Rock Island Independents, their place in national football history, and a little about how football has changed, with retired Rock Island High School coach Vic Boblett. Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street

Saturday, Sept. 27: Places Where We Play Stadium Bus Tour, 9:30 am to noon. Guided bus tour embarks and returns to Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street, with visits to Rock Island High School’s Almquist Field, Moline High School’s Wharton Field House and Browning Field, and Augustana College’s Ericson Field. Reservations are required for bus arrangements. Call the Rock Island Library at 309-732-7345 or sign up online via calendar,

Saturday, Oct. 4 -The Inspirational Life of Duke Slater,11:00 am, Rock Island Main Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. Visiting author and University of Iowa graduate Neal Rozendaal reveals the life story of fellow Hawkeye Frederick “Duke” Slater, a former resident of Clinton, Iowa. Slater was a true game changer of the NFL, becoming the league’s first black lineman of when he joined the Rock Island Independents in 1922.

Batter Up! Three-I League and Professional Baseball in the Quad Cities, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, 6:00 pm, Rock Island Main Library, Historian Bill Kemp speaks on the area baseball teams that played in the professional Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, also known as the Three-I League.
Tuesday, Oct. 14:Classic Arena, Big Time Basketball: Tri-City Blackhawks of the NBA. 6:30 pm, Rock Island Main Library. Prof. Curtis C. Roseman presents on the history of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks team of Moline, a charter member of the National Basketball Association.

Thursday, Oct. 16: Rock Island: Center of the Softball Sixties, 6:00 pm, Rock Island Main Library. Historian and lifelong softball fan Tom McKay presents on the teams, players, and organizational efforts that made Rock Island a center of fast-pitch softball for nearly a decade.

Monday, Oct. 21: Girls Got Game: Title IX & New Opportunities for Women, 6:00 pm, Rock Island Main Library. Dr. Jane Simonsen of Augustana College leads a panel discussion on the historic act that changed America forever, with remarks by Quad Citians who benefited from it first-hand.

Rock Island Library and the surrounding community were expressly chosen by the Illinois Humanities Council to host Hometown Teams as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs around the country. As the central host of Hometown Teams, Rock Island Library has also partnered with the Moline Public Library, the Rock Island County Historical Society, and the Karpeles Manuscript Museum to extend historical exhibits and programs around the Quad Cities. The Moline Library will display memorabilia from the Quad Cities Open and John Deere Classic, and offera free program, “From the Quad Cities Open to the John Deere Classic: Big Time Professional Golf in the Quad Cities.” Long-time tournament volunteer John Wetzel presents the program at 6:30 pm on Sept. 30 at the Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Street.

Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Rock Island will showcase relics from professional baseball’s past, including contracts from Babe Ruth, an 1839 baseball book, and examples of early equipment, including a padded glove, catcher’s mask and ball. The Rock Island County Historical Society will host a display on a local baseball player, William “Baby Doll” Jacobsen. After starting with the Rock Island Islanders in 1909, Jacobson went on to set 13 American League records as a St. Louis Browns center fielder.

The Butterworth Center, Moline, IL, has also dedicated its Evenings at Butterworth fall series to Hometown Teams, offering programs on women in boxing, the physical training goals of the Turners Society, and a look at sports in art. ( Outside the Quad Cities, the Andover Historical Museum, Andover, IL, has developed an exhibit on the “Terrible Swedes” baseball team. For information, call 309-476-8228 or 309-845-0168.

“Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils, and local host institutions. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Support for the Illinois Humanities Council provided by National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly.

Local sponsors include the Illinois Humanities Council, Rock Island Community Foundation, Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island Public Library Foundation, and Sedona Staffing, along with media sponsorships from WHBF TV/CBS 4, Townsquare Media (ESPN Quad Cities 93.5, The HAWK 104.9, 97X WXLP, and B100 ), Mickle Communications, The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and the River Cities Reader. In kind support has been received from Bill’s Moving and Storage, Victory Enterprises, and Midwest Graphics Management.

The exhibit’s final Illinois stop after Rock Island is with the Friends of Hancock County, Carthage, IL, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 14. A short video about the exhibition can be viewed at