Bill Clinton feels the Cardinals' pain.
Well, at least the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock does. In a strange series of circumstances, 100 items from the team's Hall of Fame museum will take up residence in Arkansas from March 3 to Sept. 16. When it does, it will be the largest official display of Cardinals artifacts anywhere in the country, including downtown St. Louis and Missouri.
That doesn't make sense, does it? But it's sadly true because the Cardinals Hall of Fame museum, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, hasn't been anything more than a pile of boxes at Busch Stadium storage facilities since 2008. Before that, the museum had a home at the now-shuttered Bowling Hall of Fame that's located across the street from the stadium. Plans to relocate the museum to the the planned "Ballpark Village" have never come to fruition because, well, the Ballpark Village has yet to be built in this poor economy.
At any rate, with 16,000 items and 80,000 photographs just chilling in Busch's bowels, the Clinton library saw an opportunity to showcase things like jerseys that belonged to Arkansas native Dizzy Dean.
From the Post-Dispatch:
"I knew the collection was kind of available for a limited time because of it not having a home," said Kurt Senn, the [Clinton] library's deputy director. "As the closest major-league team and one people in this area knew through radio, we knew we had interest and a limited window to do this."
Added [Paula Homan, curator of the Cardinals Hall of Fame]: "We've been able to provide the Clinton library with this quality of a loan primarily because my doors aren't open. I wouldn't be able to do something at this level if we had a hall."
Some might ask why the Cards just haven't moved back into the Bowling Hall of Fame until everyone gets their act together and builds something besides a softball field on the site of the proposed Ballpark Village. The team's response is that the bowling building is uninhabitable and that water leaks would damage the memorabilia.
After peering through the locked doors of the bowling museum during last October's World Series — and taking this picture — I can confirm the Cardinals' complaint.
Over the line!
In a perfect world, Cardinals ownership would take the money they saved by not saddling themselves with Albert Pujols' contract and finally get this Ballpark Village built so Cardinals fans can see items like Bob Gibson's 1968 Cy Young award (which the club bought for $84,000).
But in the absence of that unlikelihood, the actions taken by the Cardinals curators are commendable. Faced with a lousy situation, they're not only getting some items out there for some Cardinals fans in the region to see, but they've started an online museum with a virtual walkthrough. It's far from ideal, but at least it's something.
As long as they remember not to send a certain item down to the Clinton Library in Little Rock, of course. You can see where that'd get confusing.