“Play Ball!” is echoing through a Philadelphia museum in a new exhibit about minorities in Major League Baseball that opens just as the 2014 season begins to unfold.
“Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American” is the name of the just-opened exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History that chronicles the significant roles that Jews and members of other minority groups played -- and continue to play -- in America’s favorite pastime.
The museum shares with visitors how some of the game’s biggest names on and off the field had to overcome adversity and prejudice. The so-called “barrier breakers” include Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier as a player for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and, later, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente. A Jewish woman, Justine Siegal, was the first female to pitch major league batting practice.
Special tribute is given to Sandy Koufax, who pitched for the Dodgers, both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, from 1955 to 1966. Koufax refused to pitch the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. He returned to the mound the following day. The Dodgers won the series against the Twins in seven games.
In an interactive exhibit, fans can don a reproduction of Koufax’s Dodgers jersey, pick up a ball and try their hand at pitching.
“Chasing Dreams” continues through Oct. 26.
The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays but will be closed for the first day of Passover (April 15), Rosh Hashana (Sept. 25 and 26) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 4).
Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for ages 13 to 21. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free.