Baseball exhibit hits a 'home run'
July 27, 2017 at 9:26 p.m.
Thomas Hattaway's grandparents knew he loved the game of baseball. So they surprised him Thursday morning with a trip to the Gregg County Historical Museum for the "Field of Dreams" baseball exhibit.
The 13-year-old Kilgore eighth-grader left quite impressed.
"It was a real nice surprise," said Hattaway. "I thought the museum was very interesting. I really enjoyed seeing stuff on all the different players."
But it was one player in particular that caught young Hattaway's fancy.
"I liked the stuff most about Chris Davis, because he's one of my favorite players," Hattaway said of the Baltimore Orioles slugger and former Longview Lobo standout, who donated a bat and jersey to the exhibit.
Lindsay Loy, executive director for the museum, said the baseball exhibit has proven to be a home run.
"Actually I think the traffic has increased with this exhibit. Usually opening day comes with an exhibit and we may have one person, two people trickle in," said Loy. "This one we had quite a few people come in opening day. We had a big group of older gentlemen come through reminiscing about the days of baseball and watching the game for the first time on a color TV."
The exhibit opened July 11 and continues its run through Aug. 26.
"We had our big opening night party on Thursday, July 13, and we probably had roughly 50 people come through that evening. We've also had a Montessori school tour come through.
"I think the reception for this exhibit has been fantastic," Loy said. "I think everybody seems to really enjoy seeing the Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan cards and the Willie Mays baseball bat."
Loy also said the exhibit has given people the opportunity to learn more about Longview's very own Charlie Neal. Thanks to Neal's daughter, Brenda Powers, the 1959 Gold Glove her father won is proudly displayed complete with a bio. Neal, who passed away in 1996, spent six years with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, two seasons with the New York Mets and one year with the Cincinnati Reds.
"A lot of people didn't really know much about Charlie Neal. I think many of our visitors have found that the most interesting of all," added Loy. "Because we're having this during the summer, we've attracted a lot of people on vacation from out of the county. We've probably seen over 100 or so come through just for the baseball exhibit and that doesn't include the Montessori school."
On display is the late Jack Buchanan's unparalleled stockpile of autographed baseballs, bats and cards. Complementing the Buchanan collection is the North American Baseball Stadium photographic exhibit from acclaimed photographer Jim Dow.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)