If the nation's capital is on your vacation itinerary, you might stop by the National Museum of History and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution. There, through Labor Day, you'll find a small exhibit on the first floor featuring artifacts donated by 21 of our Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year. The centerpiece of the display is a Grecian amphora, circa 510 B.C., which has been one of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S prized possessions since 1957. A replica of the ancient jar, which is decorated with vase-paintings of discus and javelin throwers as well as a sprinter and a trainer, has been presented to each of our 26 Sportsmen. Their donations in the exhibit include uniforms given by Tom Seaver, Roger Bannister and Jerry Lucas; Muhammad Ali's robe; Bobby Orr's hockey skates and gloves; Jackie Stewart's racing helmet; and the bat Stan Musial used to stroke his 3,000th hit.
These athletes need not worry that the Smithsonian will forget them come September, because the display is the nucleus of what will become a major permanent collection devoted to the history of sports and recreation in the U.S. During its 133 years the Smithsonian has accumulated a wide assortment of sports memorabilia, including hundreds of baseball trading cards, 19th-century ice skates and a ticket booth from the original Yankee Stadium. Previously scattered throughout the museum, they are currently displayed together on the museum's second floor, though still curiously categorized: Woodrow Wilson's tennis racket and Teddy Roosevelt's skis are considered "political history" and the Louisville Sluggers "forest products."
"Now, finally," says curator Carl Scheele, the man most responsible for the Smithsonian's new interest in sports, "we're making a concerted, systematic and comprehensive attempt to collect sports memorabilia." He and his staff are seeking to assemble a "taxonomic resource" that will provide an overview of sport in America and its development on all levels—amateur, scholastic and professional. So while Scheele wants to obtain additional memorabilia from major sports, he's just as eager to augment the Institution's collection of artifacts associated with such leisure activities as jogging, hunting, fishing and billiards.
If you have a sports item that may be of historical importance and are willing to donate it to the Smithsonian, write to the Division of Community Life, Room 408 MHT, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560. Explain—but please do not send—what you have, with documentation and pictures, if possible. Who knows, your grandfather's leather football helmet may end up on display right next to one of Bobby Morrow's Olympic gold medals or the golf shoes Ken Venturi wore while winning the 1964 U.S. Open.