The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum arrived in St. Mary’s from Toronto 23 years ago.
In that time, it has become rooted in the fabric of the town and this winter, those roots are going to grow a great deal stronger as the Hall undergoes a significant expansion.
“We’re proud and happy to be in St. Mary’s,” says Hall Executive Director, Scott Crawford. “It’s been a long time coming to build an expansion on the Hall of Fame. We really looked after our site and ball field the last 15 years and our board has decided to look after our museum now.”
This will end any discussion that remained about a possible relocation to London. Given London is the home of the oldest continuously operating ballpark in the world, there seemed to be a fit, even though there was no appearance of anything beyond speculation.
The expansion isn’t just being announced in St. Marys. According to Crawford, it is already underway.
“We started last week and we hope to build over the wintertime. We hope to have the shell of the building done by then end of March and then continue to work into the spring.”
While there is no set date for completion, given that winter conditions can make things a little unpredictable, the hope seems to be to have things finished at some point in the spring.
“We’re going to more than double the size we are now,” Crawford explains. “We are going to add 2500 square feet.”
The work will be done by a combination of Marklevitz Architects Inc. from Stratford, BaAM Productions from Toronto and Elgin Contracting & Restoration Ltd. from St. Thomas.
As much as there will be renovations made to the existing structure that will create a gift shop, a new auditorium area and a new entrance, Crawford admits there is another focus as well.
“The majority of our expansion is going to be for archives and research. It is really key to look after our collection because we are holding the history of baseball.”
Visitors to the Hall might enjoy seeing the home plate that Joe Carter stepped on after hitting his Wrodl Series winning home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 or holding an actual bat used by Babe Ruth, but there is an enormous amount of baseball memorabilia that needs to be examined and preserved that falls into a much different category.
“We have the Harry Simmons collection that dates back to the mid 1800s. We have one book collection which is over 2000 books. We have all kinds of other history on our other inductees and all facts of baseball. We’re really proud of our collection and until this expansion we haven’t been able to show it off as we would have liked to.”
This will now give them that opportunity.
In all there are over 6,000 books and magazines and over 10,000 artifacts and other papers.
The Hall of Fame originally opened in Toronto in 1983 at then Exhibition Place and then moved to the Ontario Place theme park before arriving in St. Marys and it appears ready to remain there for a very long time to come.