Institution’s ‘Hometown Teams’ exhibit to include 1952 Ozaukee Press page featuring Belgium team
In October 1952, members of the Belgium men’s baseball team, most of them wearing double-breasted suit jackets, accepted the Kettle Moraine League championship trophy.
It was a big event by local standards, certainly big enough to send Ozaukee Press photographer Vern Arendt to cover the presentation. His photo of the proud, well-dressed young men ran in the upper right corner of the Oct. 23, 1952, sports page.
Now, 60 years later, that Ozaukee Press page is being incorporated in a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit celebrating what Ozaukee Press and its readers have for decades — hometown sports.
The exhibit, “Hometown Teams: Sports in American Communities,” is scheduled to debut in February 2014 and will travel to museums and libraries in 180 small towns in 30 states over the course of six years. The project is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, which is intended to support small museums.
In describing the exhibit, the Smithsonian writes, “Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.
“‘Hometown Teams’ will capture the stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts; (stories of) underdog heroics, larger-than-life legends, fierce rivalries and gut-wrenching defeats.”
What attracted curators to the Ozaukee Press photo of the Belgium baseball team was the look of pride in the members faces during the trophy presentation, said Susan Wachowski, an exhibit researcher working on the project.
But as interesting as the small-town feel of the photo is the small-world story of how the Smithsonian came upon the sports page of the Oct. 23, 1952, edition of Ozaukee Press.
“It’s really pretty unusual how this all happened,” Wachowski said. “I guess it really speaks to the small-town theme of the exhibit.”
It turns out that Jennifer Schommer, assistant director of public relations for the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibit Service, is no stranger to Belgium. She grew up there, and last summer returned home for Luxembourg Fest because the Schommers were one of several honored families.
“Our family’s exhibit was next to the Bares family exhibit, and they had all this really fantastic sports memorabilia, including a lot of Ozaukee Press clippings,” Schommer said. “I immediately thought of how perfect this would be for the ‘Hometown Teams’ exhibit.”
The exhibit, which will feature everything from newspaper clipping to sports memorabilia and interactive displays, is organized according to six themes. The Ozaukee Press page will be part of the “Community Pride” section.
The Press photo shows Belgium team manager Les Bares accepting the Broughton trophy at the annual Kettle Moraine League banquet. Surrounding Bares are team members Rich Russart, Gordon Thill, Darwin Binder, Clyde Weiland, John Krier, Eddie Bares and Cliff Schmit.
“It’s great to bring this Smithsonian exhibit to small towns all over the United States,” Schommer said. “I’m so happy Belgium will be represented in the exhibit.”
Image Information: THE OCT. 23, 1952, Ozaukee Press page featuring a photo of the championship Belgium baseball team will be part of the Smithsonian’s traveling “Hometown Teams”