A recent museum trip turned into an idea for our area.
One of the first things I did when I landed in Arizona two weeks ago was go with my relatives to pick up their Fiesta Bowl tickets. Much to my surprise, we ended up in more than just a sports apparel store — the place had a museum for the history of the bowl game in the back.
Newspaper clippings from every game since the 1971 original line one wall. There’s game scores, trophies and equipment on display to highlight some of the biggest moments in the bowl’s history. Full uniform displays for the current Fiesta Bowl matchup (and another Arizona-based bowl game, the now-infamous Cheez-Its Bowl between Cal and TCU) are smack in the center of the room. There’s even an area honoring past directors not unlike what you’d see at the Florida Strawberry Festival’s main office, complete with a mini-exhibit about the unique yellow jackets they all wear. How could I not think of Plant City after checking out that corner of the room?
So, I did think of Plant City. Our town’s sports history is much longer than the Fiesta Bowl’s. Couldn’t we get something totally comprehensive together?
I know there are several places that already offer a look back at past sporting days. The Bing House has been diligent about collecting Negro League Baseball memorabilia and stories from locals who played in those days. I attended a PCHS class reunion en masse last year where every graduating class in the building made a booth to display, and many booths featured Planters and Raiders memorabilia that would fit right in at a museum. I covered the ring ceremony for the state champion 1982 PCHS boys basketball team and all along one side of the room were blown-up newspaper clippings from key games of that season. We’ve got the opportunity to do something with the Cincinnati Reds, as Plant City Stadium doesn’t open to the public on a daily basis so you can go see Pete Rose’s locker and other things.
I don’t want to take anything away from anyone who’s already done work like this. I just think it would be pretty cool if people could come together to create an exhibit somewhere in town to re-tell all of our biggest sports stories of the past.
It wouldn’t even have to stop with the distant past. Why not include some of the more recent accomplishments of PCHS, Durant and Strawberry Crest teams that had extraordinary or important seasons? Why not bring youth sports into the mix, like this Plant City Dolphins Midgets team that’s currently on a record-setting league winning streak or the UYFL squad that won a national title with an awesome run several years ago?
I’m not sure just how possible it is to put together such an exhibit, something that really encompasses everything we’ve had to offer, but a sportswriter can dream.