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Smithsonian sports exhibit coming to Georgetown

Georgetown County Museum volunteer, Jan McGinty looks through some of the posters produced by the Georgetown County high schools that will be placed in store windows to celebrate the Smithsonian Institution's Exhibition Hometown Teams "How Sports Shape America.” The exhibit will open July 25 and run through Sept. 5.
Georgetown County Museum volunteer, Jan McGinty looks through some of the posters produced by the Georgetown County high schools that will be placed in store windows to celebrate the Smithsonian Institution's Exhibition Hometown Teams "How Sports Shape America.” The exhibit will open July 25 and run through Sept. 5. cslate@thesunnews.com

GEORGETOWN | While baseball fields, swimming pools, and other recreational areas are teeming with activity this summer, Georgetown will celebrate its hometown sports history in conjunction with a traveling Hometown Teams exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.

The Georgetown County Museum has been selected as one of six South Carolina sites during 2015 to host the exhibit, “Hometown Teams—How Sports Shape America.” The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street project and is brought to local communities through the Humanities Council of South Carolina.

Georgetown will host the exhibit from July 25 to Sept. 5. Other sites across the state include Denmark, Gaffney, Belton, Slater and Manning.

Harby Moses, president of the Historical Society of Georgetown County, said hosting the exhibit is a significant event for the county and its residents.

“Having the Smithsonian exhibit on our [Historical Society’s] 60th anniversary is huge for us,” he said, crediting the numerous volunteers working diligently with support from city and county officials to bring the exhibit to town.

To ensure the exhibit is handled correctly, volunteers Mary Boyd and Jan McGinty traveled to Denmark for instruction on proper setup and handling.

The exhibit is designed to interest all ages and includes audio, video and interactive components.

Boyd said children will enjoy interactive stadium cushions and will be able to get answers for questions such as “Why do teams shake hands?”

“There will be souvenir take home cards kind of like baseball trading cards, inspirational cards and other take aways,” Boyd said.

The July 25 opening will be celebrated with a lineup of activities revealed Monday at a news conference at the museum.

Museum manager Susie Shoman said activities will include a celebrity baseball game. Area baseball legends from the Palmetto Baseball League established in 1956 have been invited to participate in a game Sunday at the Mike Johnson Baseball Field. Pre-game festivities will include a T-ball exhibition, followed by unveiling of an historical marker officially naming the 1896 field for Johnson, a local athlete and coach instrumental in rehabilitating the ballpark.

Festivities on July 25, the day the exhibit opens, will begin with a celebration parade starting at 10 a.m. on Front Street. Area recreation and high school athletic organizations, cheerleading squads, bands and mascots that include Splash from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are invited to participate.

“The whole idea,” Shoman said, “is not just to showcase what’s coming from the Smithsonian but to showcase our local teams as well.”

To make the exhibit truly “hometown,” there will be memorabilia inside the museum recognizing local athletes through the decades. Georgetown has a healthy history of baseball players making it to the minor and major leagues including pitcher Flint Rhem who played on the St. Louis Cardinals with the likes of Dizzy Dean.

Making it a team effort, museum volunteers are collecting photos and information from all the schools including five high schools--Winyah, Mount Pleasant, Choppee, Rosemary and Howard--that have closed. They are also involving students in various ways such as making posters.

While space will be made to accommodate the traveling exhibit, Boyd said nothing of the museum’s usual tour would be out of sight, which gives visitors a dual reason to visit.

Other activities associated with the celebration of local sports include a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 with Georgetown representatives from the S.C. Hall of Fame and a 7 p.m. Aug. 18 panel discussion on the impact of golf on the county. For details, contact the museum at 545-7020.

Angela Nicholas can be reached at aknicholas@sc.rr.com.

If you go

WHAT | Hometown Teams Baseball Game

WHEN | 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE | Mike Johnson Field, 1500 Emanuel St.

ADMISSION | $5, children 6 and under free

WHAT | Smithsonian Exhibit Opening

WHEN | 11 a.m. July 25

WHERE | Georgetown County Museum, 120 Broad St.

ADMISSION | Varies by age from $2 to $5 (6 and under free)

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