Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg Museum of History to get Guinness world record baseball exhibit

ST. PETERSBURG — His red-haired wife in the front row behind the Rays' dugout is B.J. Upton's good luck charm, declares Dennis Schrader.

Schrader, who holds the Guinness record for the world's largest collection of autographed baseballs, just might be that for the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Plans are afoot to move all 4,609 of his baseballs — most secured in a room-sized vault in his Odessa home — and other baseball memorabilia to the museum for a long-term exhibit.

Those involved anticipate the million-dollar collection will become a major attraction.

"I've shared this idea that we will be getting it and I've heard friends and clients say, 'I'd love to see that,' '' said Ronald Hersch, a financial adviser on the museum's executive committee.

"It will be a tremendous draw to the museum, to the city.''

Mayor Bill Foster has seen the collection at Schrader's home.

"It's the most incredible collection of baseballs I have ever seen in my life,'' Foster said. "Not only does he have balls signed by every Hall of Famer, he's got one ball signed by Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

"It's a collection people will want to see, because there is such a diversity of players represented and to see the memorabilia and autographs. … There is nothing like it in the world. What will make this exhibition so special is there's literally a story behind every ball.''

Officials hope to have the collection installed next year, but the project will require thousands of dollars to reconfigure space in the waterfront facility, pay for insurance, increase security and establish what is being planned as a state-of-the-art interactive display.

In the days since Schrader signed a May 1 letter of intent to house the baseballs in St. Petersburg, the museum has organized a gathering to build interest and encourage donations. The private event will be tonight at the museum.

Schrader, 65, will speak of the collection he began as a 9-year-old, when Mickey Mantle signed his ball at Al Lang Stadium during spring training.

"We are in the planning stages,'' he said Wednesday of the museum deal. "It's not cast in stone, but it's probable. … I get investors every day wanting to buy it. I really don't want to sell it.''

While an "astronomical" offer might tempt him to sell, "I don't think I would. I would like to share it with the public and the city.''

"We've been working on this for a while,'' said Joel Cohen, the museum's volunteer director. "We thought it was going to slip through our hands. Dennis really wants the exhibit to stay in the area."

The museum hopes to raise $250,000 for the project, Hersch said.

"We want to make it a world-class exhibit with the appropriate security,'' he said. "He has a wonderful exhibit already. … We want to make it a much more interactive exhibit, where we have Mr. Schrader on tape, where people can look things up, where we put parts of this exhibit online, where people have the capability of adding information, asking information.''

Schrader, who made his fortune in the mobile home business, is no stranger to Rays' fans. He usually exhibits a couple of hundred or so of his baseballs at the Rays' annual FanFest.

Museum officials say Schrader's collection will fit perfectly with their vision statement, which includes setting up an exhibit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of spring baseball in St. Petersburg. Schrader said his collection will be on a 20-year loan. What happens after?

"I'd be dead,'' he said, laughing. "If something happened to me, it would be my son's. After 20 years, it would be between him and the museum."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

St. Petersburg Museum of History to get Guinness world record baseball exhibit 05/09/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 11:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. We talked to him ahead of time. Check out what he had to say. [Patrick Eccelsine/FOX]
  2. Conor Oberst, Johnnyswim concerts moved out of State Theatre over construction issues


    Two more concerts -- including one this weekend -- have been moved out of the State Theatre in St. Petersburg as the venue continues to experience scaled-down crowd capacity following recent construction.

  3. Hillsborough board to vote on new school start times


    TAMPA — The big issue at today's Hillsborough County School Board meeting will be the 2018-19 bell schedule. To save money and get students to school on time, …

    Hillsborough County School Board members tried to work out their differences at a training day in Temple Terrace on Oct. 11. Today, they will vote on revised school start times for 2018-19. [COLLEEN WRIGHT | Times]
  4. McCain condemns 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in clear shot at Trump (w/video)


    PHILADELPHIA — An emotional Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., launched a thinly veiled critique of President Donald Trump's global stewardship Monday night, using a notable award ceremony to condemn "people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems."

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, accompanied by Chair of the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees, former Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he takes the stage before receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. [Associated Press]
  5. Tampa could pay $200,000 to family of man crushed by city front-end loader

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall could pay $200,000 to the family of a dump truck driver crushed last December by a front-end loader operated by a city employee.

    This aerial image from 10News WTSP shows the scene at a city of Tampa loading station where dump truck driver Pablo R. Femenias was crushed by a front end loader driven by a city employee on Dec. 28, 2016.