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New cricket & baseball exhibition

MCC and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are delighted to announce the opening of a groundbreaking new exhibition set to open at Lord’s Cricket Ground in early May.

Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect’ is not only an unprecedented collaboration between these two major institutions but also highlights works from the little known C.C. Morris Cricket Library and Collection in Philadelphia.

This partnership will allow museum goers and sports fans in both the USA and UK the opportunity to see treasures from all three collections - many of which have never before crossed the Atlantic and in some cases are revealed to the public for the very first time.

When and where did baseball originate? Which countries played the first ever international game of cricket? Who won the first baseball World Cup? The exhibition reveals some remarkable surprises, dispels some cherished convictions and sets out for the first time to explore these two great bat and ball sports side by side.

Taking Twenty20 cricket as its touchstone, the exhibition uses uniforms and equipment worn by such greats as Derek Jeter and Andrew Flintoff, Bengie Molina and Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara, Paul Collingwood, Robin Wallace, Charlotte Edwards and Shahid Afridi to examine the games today.

It goes on to compare equipment, rules/laws, key moments in their history, the question of origins and thereby helps us to understand why baseball is America’s game and cricket England’s summer pastime.

It is set to take advantage of worldwide media interest surrounding innovations in international cricket and recent research into the origins of baseball and hopes to attract almost 500,000 visitors while it is on view at Lord’s (May-December 2010) and in Cooperstown, NY (April-November 2011).

Adam Chadwick, MCC Curator said: "Cricket today stands on the brink of an astonishing metamorphosis.

"30 years after the first changes wrought by its own `World Series’, the newly minted Twenty20, the shortest and shiniest form of the game yet, promises to complete a transformation from national pastime to international entertainment.

"The influence of baseball is evident and the exhibition is the first to explore these two great bat and ball sports side-by-side."

The exhibition will feature new loans as well as historical artefacts including:

  • The world’s earliest cricket and baseball uniforms as well as those worn by Derek Jeter: captain of the 2009 World Series winning New York Yankees; and Andrew Flintoff:star all-rounder from the Ashes series of 2005 and 2009
  • Baseball bats used by Babe Ruth - to hit his last home run - and Barry Bonds
  • Arguably the oldest cricket bat ever discovered alongside the most recent `Mongoose’ and the new experimental coloured cricket balls
  • Rare photographs and personal items belonging to America’s greatest cricketer, J `Bart’ King, a `Gentleman of Philadelphia’ and to Harry Wright - the most influential cricketer in early baseball and manager of the Cincinnati Red Stockings
  • Rare touring jerseys including that in which Casey Stengel met King George V in 1924 and a unique poster of the first truly global Baseball tour organised by AG Spalding in 1888

Theme areas will explore in more detail:

Play/Play Ball!

This section will set out a series of direct comparisons to provide a jumping off point for looking at elements of the two sports in greater detail.

This approach also gives visitors familiar reference points from the sport they know to compare with the other. The comparisons will range from uniforms, equipment, umpiring & the use of technology, scoring and statistics and grounds.

Visitors will also get the chance to experience the difference by playing on the Nintendo Wii.

Empires and Missions - Spreading the Game

A closer look at the early professional teams crossing the Atlantic - cricketers to America and baseball players to England - in the decades around the turn of the 20th century reveals the fledgling international development of each game.

It also sheds light on the ramifications for cricket in America and baseball in England.

The Scientific Game - From Amateur to Professional

The tension between sport as a gentlemanly activity and sport as a paid profession is present in both baseball and cricket.

Both games also grappled with widespread gambling and control of players, yet deep differences meant that each took contrasting paths to full professionalism.

Origins - Finding Beginnings

The question of origins involves a bewildering array of other ancient bat and ball games as well as the difficult task of unravelling fact from persistent myth.

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