Smithsonian brings Home Team exhibit to New Port Richey

Traveling, interactive exhibit showcases memorabilia, speakers and games from sports teams and athletes, both national and local.
Published March 15
Updated March 18

NEW PORT RICHEY — Want to play a little sports trivia? Maybe take a guess at who started the tradition of throwing the ceremonial first pitch or how the term "Throw in the Towel" originated. Would you like to see some gear owned by 1920s local golfing great Gene Sarazan and the racing bike ridden by Sean Kelly, who placed first in the 1988 Vuelta a España and earned a green jacket in the 1989 Tour de France.

All that and more are there for the seeing — and touching — as the Smithsonian Museum's "Hometown Teams" exhibit continues through April 27 at 6346 Grand Boulevard, in downtown New Port Richey.

The traveling exhibit, presented by the city's Cultural Affairs Committee and the Florida Humanities Council, is part the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street.

The free outreach program focuses on how sports has shaped our society, while bringing a taste of the Washington, D.C., museum to rural parts of America. Hometown Teams is making a second tour-stop in Pasco, after debuting in March 2018 at the Pioneer Florida Museum in Dade City.

More than 150 people showed up on opening day, and more have been coming in since, said KC Quaretti, marketing and public information specialist for the city of New Port Richey.

The exhibit provides a broad national view of hometown sports, but there are local offerings as well. A room filled with Gulf High memorabilia is on display, along with old photos of the Plutocrats, a AA minor league team that played ball in Sims park. Local athletes and historians are slated to speak about their experiences over the course of the exhibit.

Its interactive nature is especially pleasing for families, Quaretti said, as students from Schwettman Education Center lined up to get autographs from guest speakers and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Superbowl team members Ryan Benjamin and Dan Goodspeed.

"The kids who have been here really enjoy it," she said. "Usually when you go to a museum it's 'don't touch.' Here it's 'please touch.'”

"The trivia is kind of fun. You learn something new every day," said Eddie Blanchette, 30, who stopped in with Krystle D'Aquino, 24.

"I love it because I love sports," D'Aquino said. "And this is much cheaper than a plane ticket to Washington, D.C."

IF YOU GO: The Smithsonian Museum exhibit, "Hometown Teams" continues through April 27 at 6345 Grand Boulevard, New Port Richey. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. For group visits or information on activities, call (727) 841-4560.

SPEAKERS: Dewey Mitchell, former Olympian, 11 a.m. March 20; Mike Carlson, professional sports photographer, 11 a.m. March 23; Youth Advisory Board Sports Panel discussion, 12 p.m. March 23; New Port Richey Public Library Sports Story Time, 2 p.m. March 23.

Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] or (727) 869-6251. Follow @MicheleMiller52.