Rock Island, IL: With just three weeks left for the exhibit, and three programs to go, the Smithsonian Hometown Teams project at Rock Island Public Library is entering its final stretch.
"There are no extra innings for this project, said coordinator Lisa Lockheart, of Rock Island Library. "The Smithsonian exhibits are available for viewing only until 4:30 pm on Saturday, Oct. 25. If you've been planning to see it, now's the time!"
The three final programs in the series provide ample opportunities to see the exhibit, and to explore the origins of the National Basketball Association in Moline, the impact of men's fast-pitch softball tournaments, and how female athletes benefited from Title IX and the growth of women's sports.
Upcoming programs include "Classic Arena, Big Time Basketball: The Tri-Cities Blackhawks of the NBA," at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the Rock Island Main Library. Dr. Curtis C. Roseman , co-author of "A Century of Players, Performers, and Pageants - Wharton Field House and Browning Field," presents the history of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks team, a charter member of the National Basketball Association. His remarks will focus on the Moline team's role in the community and professional basketball, and on early African American players playing with the Blackhawks. Dr. Roseman has conducted extensive research on migration and the settlement of ethnic populations, especially within the United States. He also has expertise in the historical geography of the Upper Mississippi region, the Quad Cities area, and Los Angeles.
Next up is a look at community softball, with "Rock Island: Center of the Softball Sixties" at 6:00 pm on Thursday, Oct. 16, also at the Rock Island Main Library. Historian and lifelong softball fan Tom McKay presents on the teams, organizational efforts, and players that made Rock Island a center of fast-pitch softball for nearly a decade. From 1961 to 1969, thousands of fans crowded Douglas Park each night for the International Softball Congress World Tournament. Some of the best men's fast-pitch teams from the United States and Canada competed, including local favorites, like the Hamm's Beer and Bon Air teams. Mr. McKay is a professional historian and lifelong softball fan who attended each of the ISC tournaments held in Rock Island in the 1960s.A museum consultant from Hampton, IL, McKay worked for 24 years in the Office of Local History at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. He holds a bachelor's in history from Cornell College and a master's in historical museum work from the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York
The final program in the Hometown Teams series considers how the world of sports has completely changed for women. A discussion on "Girls Got Game: Title IX and New Opportunities for Women" will be presented at 6:00 pm on Monday, Oct. 20 at the Rock Island Library. Dr. Jane Simonson, of Augustana College, will provide background on the 1972 act, and then lead a panel discussion with Quad Citians who benefited, first hand. Passed in 1972 as part of the Education Act, Title IX outlawed gender-based discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Panelists include Virgil Mayberry, of Rock Island, and Sarah Eikleberry, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, St. Ambrose University.
Dr. Simonsen is an associate professor of history at Augustana College, specializing in U.S. women's history, gender studies and Native American studies. She received a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Iowa in 2001 and has been a member of the history department at Augustana since 2006.
"Some of the most interesting elements of our Hometown Teams programs have been the Quad Citians who came forward with family or personal memories. We hope to see people with stories to share about their experiences with local basketball, softball tournaments and women's sports in our area," added Lockheart.
The Rock Island Main Library will house the Smithsonian "Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America" exhibit until Saturday, Oct. 25. Offered in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council, the Smithsonian exhibit covers how sports shapes lives, unites us, and celebrates who we are as Americans. Highly interactive exhibit sections encourage visitors to reflect on their own experience, and feelings about Hometown Teams. Local exhibits include displays on the Rock Island Independents football team, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and QC Thunder basketball teams, Illinois high school and college teams and historic stadiums and fields, including Douglas Park. Local residents have also loaned memorabilia for display from their own sports pasts.
As the central host of Hometown Teams, Rock Island Library has also partnered with the Moline Public Library, the Rock Island County Historical Society, and the Karpeles Manuscript Museum to extend historical exhibits and programs to sites around the Illinois Quad Cities. Evenings at Butterworth, a free program series at the Butterworth Center in Moline, IL, will also offer two more Friday programs on the intersection of sports, heritage, and culture on Oct. 17 and Nov. 14.
The exhibit's final stop in Illinois after Rock Island is with the Friends of Hancock County, Carthage, IL, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 14.
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Exhibit Venue: Rock Island Public Library, Main Branch: 401 19th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201, 309-732-READ (7323), www.rockislandlibrary.org
Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Support for the Illinois Humanities Council provided by National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly. Local sponsors include the Illinois Humanities Council, Rock Island Community Foundation, Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island Public Library Foundation, and Sedona Staffing, along with media sponsorships from WHBF TV/CBS 4, Townsquare Media (ESPN Quad Cities 93.5, The HAWK 104.9, 97X WXLP, and B100 ), Mickle Communications, The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and the River Cities Reader. In kind support has been received from Bill's Moving and Storage, Victory Enterprises, and Midwest Graphics Management.