Archive for Saturday, March 24, 2012

If he builds it, will they come? Muscotah plans baseball museum

Muscotah, Kan., man Jeff Hanson is working to make the town's old water tower into a baseball museum honoring Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, who was born in the town in 1880. Hanson, 69, is also hoping a museum would bring much needed business to Muscotah.

Muscotah, Kan., man Jeff Hanson is working to make the town's old water tower into a baseball museum honoring Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, who was born in the town in 1880. Hanson, 69, is also hoping a museum would bring much needed business to Muscotah.

March 24, 2012

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— There isn’t much left of the town of Muscotah — population less than 180 — about 20 miles north of Valley Falls in Atchison County.

Abandoned and dilapidated houses and trailers dot Muscotah’s four or so blocks. Muscotah’s one school closed two decades ago, and the only operating business is the Muscotah Mercantile, a small general store opened in 2010.

The city’s welcome sign on Kansas Highway 159 is crooked, facing downward.

But local man Jeff Hanson, 69, sees potential for the town.

“We’re on a comeback,” says Hanson, as his three-legged dog, Lucky, hops around the storage tank of the city’s old water tower, plopped down in the middle of Muscotah like a crashed — and then abandoned — spherical spaceship.

In Hanson’s eyes, the hunk of metal — 22 feet in diameter — will soon be the world’s biggest baseball. Or at least Hanson believes so.

Donations

Those interested in donating to the Joe Tinker Museum can send checks to 1926 278 Road, Muscotah, Kan., 66058. Make checks payable to the city of Muscotah and designate it for the Tinker Museum.

‘Tinkers to Evers to Chance’

These are the saddest of possible words:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double —

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

— By Franklin Pierce Adams, New York Evening Mail, July 10, 1910

Early 20th Century Chicago Cubs players, from left, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers  and Frank Chance. The trio was well-known for their double-play abilities, with Tinker playing shortstop, Evers second base, and Chance first base. The three were also the subject of a well-known Franklin Pierce Adams 1910 poem "Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Early 20th Century Chicago Cubs players, from left, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. The trio was well-known for their double-play abilities, with Tinker playing shortstop, Evers second base, and Chance first base. The three were also the subject of a well-known Franklin Pierce Adams 1910 poem "Tinker to Evers to Chance."

“Until someone proves different,” he says.

Hanson’s on an unusual and ambitious mission in Muscotah: revive the city by turning the water tank into a baseball museum honoring the town’s most famous resident, National Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker. For most of his career, Tinker played shortstop for the Chicago Orphans/Cubs between 1902 and 1916 and won two World Series, including the Cubs’ last world championship in 1908.

He was part of the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance double play combination, immortalized in the 1910 poem by Franklin Pierce Adams of the New York Evening Mail. Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance were voted into the Hall of Fame as a unit in 1946.

“We’re hoping this is the beginning of a new Muscotah,” Hanson says.

The project

Muscotah residents, about a decade ago, learned Tinker, who died in 1948, was born in Muscotah in 1880. Once the information was out, “we more or less adopted him as our calling card,” Hanson says.

The chips for the project fell into place after Hanson heard someone remark that the town’s water tower looked like a baseball.

A grant paid for construction of new a water tower, meaning the old one, which overlooks the town’s only baseball field, now named Joe Tinker Field, would be taken down.

“I’d like to have that ball on the ground” in one piece, Hanson told the construction contractor. “Everybody said it couldn’t be done.”

Instead of dismantling the storage tank, workers managed to pull it down, denting the dome on one side. No problem, that’ll be the floor, Hanson says.

Donations for the project have been coming in, and they now have about $1,000 to complete Phase One, which entails painting the ball white with red laces. Phase Two calls for insulating the dome, adding a door and making the inside suitable for visitors. During Phase Three, the final phase, Hanson says, they’ll add baseball memorabilia and Muscotah historical artifacts. Hanson’s planning for an unveiling during Muscotah’s annual Rose Festival in June.

Hanson says they’ve been getting donations for the museum from across the state.

Some lifeblood

Across town, Hanson says, the idea has been well-received.

“Most of them think it’s a fun project,” Hanson says. “There’s only one person who’s said, ‘It’s not worth it.’”

Hanson, a retired carpenter, is new to Muscotah, moving here five years ago with his wife, C.J., who grew up here. They came back to the area to help care for elderly family members.

The couple describe themselves as “civic-minded” and wanted to do something to revive the town that used to bustle with a cafe, several banks and a feed store, says C.J., describing the town she grew up in during the 1950s and ’60s.

When they came back, everything was gone.

So C.J., with several other Muscotah residents, opened the Mercantile in a converted home near the town’s main road. The store offers a variety of goods, from cereal to holiday knickknacks. On Saturdays, C.J. bakes cinnamon rolls, and people gather in front of the store for conversation.

The Joe Tinker Museum could be the start of more such places, Hanson says, drawing tourists and money to the faded Kansas town. Hanson points to a vacant piece of property on the highway and talks about a future bank or grocery store or cafe.

"That’s the idea,” Hanson says. “Some lifeblood in this community.”

Muscotah, Kan.

Comments

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

The Muscotah area, like much of Kansas is just filled with history. Locals tell of a Jesse James hideout around there somewhere.

Very pretty drive around the area as well. Gentle hills, woods, and farms.

Bet Muscotah Armstrong Tire is still in business. Good size tire and auto dealer.

patkindle 3 years, 1 month ago

lawrence wouldnt want it unless it had a 10 million dollar price tag and was funded by the few folks left that pay taxes so the losers wouldnt have to pony up any money

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

A museum inside a water tower storage tank painted like a baseball...I'm not sure how many tourists it's going to attract. But, hey...Steve and I went to see the world's biggest ball of string last year. I don't think we spent any money in town, though.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes One eye..............This guy has vision and perhaps a local quality character. As I age I notice the lack of true characters emerging as before with every generation. An example of modern characters.

I just read an article on A. Jolie's leg shot with her dismissing interest, stating she never reads, watches t.v. or uses the internet .Yeaa Right. If I hear David Letterman discuss anything again my head will explode

Just off the top of my head.......... a few interesting characters making life more fun in the day......

Paul Lynde, Louis Armstrong (you made me think) Chuck Barris, Frank Gorshwen?, Liberace, Sinatra, I could listen to Sammy Davis Jr. talk about eating breakfast and be fascinated, The Smothers Bros, Johnny Carson, The you can call me Ray J guy, Tollie the owner of Tollie's Italian Resturante in KC,

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

This says more about your ignorance of the current generation(s) than about the character of its members.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

It most certainly does. Indeed, wissmo sounds exactly like those "old people" that I heard complaining about the same things 60 years ago.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh well sunny boys, think I'll watch Lawrence of Arabia again, or maybe something new like the equally classic Hangover.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually I took One Eye's praise of the innovative thinking of Jeff Hanson and began thinking where are the colorful people nowadays.

Instead of pointing out my ignorance Bozo, why not give me some examples. Who is our 2012 Louie Armstrong, or actor, singer, dancer, and may add fabulous tap dancer Sammy Davis Jr.?

Jack Black?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

The human race didn't all of a sudden lose its creativity, wissmo.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of talented folks out there doing their thing, but modern media is a double edged sword. It allows many times more of them gain some level of notoriety than was possible in Louis Armstrong"s day, but it's easy to get lost in the crowd. So it's more often the Justin Biebers who get the most attention-- not that he isn't talented, but he's selling sex to teen and pre-teen girls, not musical talent. The Beatles did the same in the early part of their career, but their talent is what made them household names whose songs everyone knows. Time will tell if Bieber has anything but teenybopper appeal to offer.

BTW, there were certainly a lot of performers as equally talented as Armstrong during his day that most of us have never heard of. The same is true today. If you want to find the ones that appeal to you the most, it'll require some effort on your part. But not all that much, if you're truly interested.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Just_another, I just read your latest. You make my point exactly. No reason to be angry.

Armstrong for instance was a character and not completely known for his music. Oh yes I agree many were better, but how many could do what Satchmo did? I could sit and watch LIberace or Satch chat and play all night long. Probably miss the chat more. Who now?

I do enjoy the young comediennes of today. Wish more of them had the pizazz to make it big. Richard Prior big I guess. Why was Richard allowed to crossover into other mediums? He was a character.

I even mean local characters too. For instance I grew up with many small town characters. Go back now and it's blah without them. Maybe it is an age thing, but many even from younger generations notice the lack of creativity.

Enjoyed an umpire of everything from pee wee ball to men's league who made the game entertaining with his antics. Never took a game over, but he was so entertaining. A paraplegic man who could make you feel as though you were the unlucky one. Especially when taking your money over a pool game while hitting on all the gals.

The Beatles had personalities, so did Johnny Cash, which made them characters. Personally I liked off name rock groups. Yet still enjoyed watching Cash and others perform. Cash was simply a colorful (even in black) character.

Johnny Carson took on all comers for a couple of decades due to his personality. People pay good money to buy recordings of his old shows.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"You make my point exactly. No reason to be angry."

Why were you angry?

Regardless, I didn't make your point at all. My point stands-- there are plenty of characters and characters with talent out there--more than ever, really. That you choose not to see and/or appreciate them is your loss. But there are a lot of talentless people out there whose claim to fame is merely that their fifteen minutes of fame has been way overextended. Maybe you're just focusing too much on the hype around these people.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

there are plenty of characters and characters with talent out there--more than ever, really. Name a few meeting Louie Armstrong or Johnny Cash level.

Remember Elton John and other rock stars were old school.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

You'll have to find the characters that match your tastes all on your own. But I can guarantee that they're out there. The search is half the fun. Go for it.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually just........I agree with you. Have to admit when running through the channels on a television meant 3-4 clicks, then a few more when cable began it was easier to mass the same characters. Or, in the case of Johnny Carson who was known as a "dream maker" due to his power of dominating the small medium.

I do miss a true variety show concept.

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