Berkshire Mall exhibit celebrates the history of baseball in the county

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PITTSFIELD — Anyone from Berkshire County knows how proud the county is of its historical association with the game of baseball. In Pittsfield, a record of baseball games goes back to 1791, a bylaw governing where the game could be played downtown.

A new exhibit, "Baseball in the Berkshires," at the Berkshire Mall showcases how Pittsfield played an integral part of the growth and advancement of baseball.

Larry Moore, with the help of his partners, first opened the exhibit at Arrowhead in Pittsfield and then relocated it to the Berkshire Mall where it has a permanent home to display the deep-rooted past of baseball in the Berkshires, while also featuring exhibits from contemporary teams that have won local high school titles.

"We convinced the mall that we would bring in some different clientele," said Moore. "The mall decided to gave us the space and we're as happy as could be."

Moore said his No. 1 goal is helping the community share and ultimately educate around local baseball history.

"We asked the community to donate or loan us different artifacts we could display," said Moore. "The support we have gotten from the community has been tremendous."

Exhibits throughout the space range from coaches and umpires to Wahconah Park, and include black history, women's history, minor leaguers and major leaguers. There is baseball history from North County to South County spanning the decades.

Moore was a physical education teacher and coach with the Central Berkshire Regional School District for nearly 40 years.

"One of the things I did with my fifth graders is to teach them the history of baseball," he said. "While studying baseball, I found 100 minor leaguers that were either born or brought up [in the Berkshires], and another 40 that made it to the majors, and another 40 who either worked in front offices, became scouts or even umpires."

Moore has made a point to keep the educational program involved with the exhibit, featuring a section where kids can try on jerseys and compare their hands and feet to the professionals that call the Berkshires their home. Stearns Elementary School from Pittsfield has been utilizing Moore's program for over five years.

"Parents can even come in and see our educational program," said Moore. "They bring in local athletes to come in and talk to the kids. They are currently working with the Pittsfield Suns and the North Adams SteepleCats."

From Jeff Bagwell to Carlton Fisk to Bill "Spaceman" Lee, the museum showcases every player who grew up in the Berkshires or even played here on the way to making it to the big leagues.

"I think our big push now is to get involved with public programing," said Moore. "Our hope is to get the professional players involved with the museum. We are even in the process of getting all of the trophies from the historical Saint Joseph high school to celebrate their history here."

Moore has been studying baseball for most of his life. With that said, he is still uncovering more of the story of Baseball in the area.

"You always find something that intrigues you," said Moore. "I try to go to each city and I haven't been able to do it yet. There is still so much history that hasn't been uncovered yet. It is just amazing how the stories keep coming in. It is crazy stuff. I'll think I have the only few pictures left of a place, but someone would come in and talk about how they have loads of them saved on disks. It just keeps going and going"

Moore even works part time with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and is trying to trade with them for to get more pictures of Wahconah Park. Moore is also in the process of preserving all the artifacts in the collection so they can be transported to different schools and places to help teach the history of baseball in the Berkshires.

The exhibit is located in the middle of the Berkshire Mall and is open Fridays from 3 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 and is free to everyone.

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