Manitoba Travel Project
March 26, 2007
Field of Dreams, Angels in the Outfield, and A League of Their Own are all movies that devote their plot to the wonderful sport of baseball. But no film can create the feeling of nostalgia and awe like the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum (MBHOF) in Morden, Manitoba, and hour south-west of Winnipeg.
“Our mandate is to preserve and exhibit memorabilia from people and teams born in Manitoba or that played here. We want to preserve that heritage,” says Joe Wiwchar, the MBHOF’s museum administrative manager.
The MBHOF showcases pictures, uniforms, and other baseball gear from an enormous number of athletes that were born in Manitoba, or that have played here during their career. The museum owns so much memorabilia that certain pieces have to be shown on a yearly rotation. The Hall of Fame is home to many local athletes, including Dorothy Henderson, who was the basis of the main character in A League of Their Own.
The idea for the MBHOF came from Gladwyn Scott, who formed an incorporated baseball hall of fame and museum in an attempt to save the memories of the game. The town of Neepawa wanted the MBHOF, but so did Morden. Both placed bids and a vote revealed that Morden beat out Neepawa by one point. With that victory, the MBHOF was incepted in 1997. The first two banquets were held in Brandon, where several athletes were inducted. Once the MBHOF had collected enough memorabilia, it opened in June of 1999.
“Our selection committee makes an appeal at the banquest and on our website, asking if anyone has baseball memorabilia they want to donate. We’ll usually accept an item once we know where it’s from, who wore it, and what history it has,” says Wiwchar.
The MBHOF’s selection committee is in charge of dealing with the nominations. Any unsuccessful applicants are held on file for three years and if they’re not inducted by then, they’ll have to resubmit their nominations. Wiwchar adds that the nominees for the MBHOF come from all over.
And so do the spectator. Norman Plato, one of hundreds attending the 2007 Manitoba Planning Conference in Morden’s rec-centre, was visiting the MBHOF all the way from Lac du Bonnet.
“It’s my first time here and I think this (the MBHOF) is great for the whole area. It’s great for one little town to have this because the one at The Forks doesn’t have nearly as many displays,” says Plato, adding that the MBHOF helped him to revisit his days of baseball.
“I played for the Thalberg Eagles in the 1950s, with a dear friend, Bill Toews. His display is around the corner. It’s just awesome to see someone you’ve played with,” says Plato. “I’m coming back this August with my family to see the Hall of Fame. We’ll make a weekend of it.”
The MBHOF is open 7 days a week, 8am–9pm. Admission is free, but donations, which help the museum run year-round, are welcome.