DENVER (CBS4) – While All-Star Week is about celebrating the best players in the major leagues, it’s also a time many fans look back at baseball’s history. On the other side of 20th and Blake Street from Coors Field is a museum dedicated to baseball’s past, and for many people it’s been hidden in plain sight for more than a decade.
“This is baseball heaven,” said founder Bruce Hellerstein.
The National Ballpark Museum is a true baseball nerd’s paradise. The 1,500 square foot space, owned and curated by Hellerstein, who grew up in Denver, is jam packed with some of the most rare and unique memorabilia from America’s pastime.
According to Hellerstein, it’s the only museum dedicated to baseball’s 14 classic ballparks, including Ebbets Field and Shibe Park. Chairs, bricks and even turnstiles from the original ballparks can be found throughout the showroom.
“We’ve got the seats, we’ve got bricks from all but two of them,” Hellerstein said.
Hellerstein began collecting baseball memorabilia decades ago but became more serious about his passion in the 1980s. In 1999, he filed as a 501(c)(3), and then in 2009 secured a permanent space on Blake Street.
“This is our gift to the community, and we want to give back,” he said.
Hellerstein has since grown the collection even more, adding pieces of Denver baseball history and rare fixtures from his favorite parks, including a light fixture from Ebbets Field, window from Forbes Field, and a piece of the copper façade from Old Yankee Stadium.
“I want this to feel like an old ballpark,” Hellerstein said. “It’s small, it’s intimate, and you feel like you’re in the Wrigleys and the Fenways.”
With the midsummer classic’s return to Denver, a program and ticket from the 1949 All-Star game means even more. Not only was it the first All-Star game black players were allowed to play in, but it was also the only time Brooklyn ever hosted the event.
“So, when we get this All-Star Game at Coors Field, there’s no guarantee, unless we got this this go-around, I’d see another All-Star Game here,” Hellerstein said.
That perspective is why Hellerstein and his volunteers hope to seize the rare opportunity, especially with young fans.
“This sport has such a rich history, and this place does a really good job showing that off,” said Peter Borkowski, a college student from St. Louis who visited the museum this week.
“People are coming here for fun and excitement and loving baseball and there isn’t a better venue to celebrate that,” Hellerstein said.
The museum is located at 1940 Blake Street. Admission is free for kids under 16 years-old and $10 for adults.
Normally, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. During All-Star Week, there will be the following special hours:
Sunday – 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday – 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.