The Ernie Harwell Sports Collection
If you’re a Tigers fan or even just a baseball fan, there’s not that many places where you can find a true archive of baseball history. You may be surprised to find out that there’s one in Detroit, and the best part, is that it’s completely free.
In what I consider one of Detroit’s best kept secrets, you will find more baseball books and documents than you could ever imagine or hope to find. Amongst artifacts, pictures and books, you’ll also find such things as a signed glove of Ichiro Suzuki. Where is this collection of baseball history? On display inside of the Detroit Public Library.
The collection is part of the Ernie Harwell Sports Collection, and is operated by the Burton Historical Society. Although it’s found in a locked room, it’s always available to the public with an appointment (or you can stop there and ask nicely). You can find the “Lulu and Ernie Harwell Room” on the second floor in the Main Library.
Ernie was a major influence in my life, so it was a bit overwhelming to see much of his personal collection on display. Once the doors opened and the lights were turned on, you’re immediately surrounded in an almost endless supply of baseball information.
Besides the two-sided book case which is packed full of books dating back to at least the 1950s, you’ll find other artifacts, pictures, signs and pieces of baseball lore. The crazy thing, is that there’s a lot more items in the collection, but there’s unfortunately not enough space to display all of it.
When I was talking to the lady who provided us our tour, I asked her how many people visit the collection during the average week. Sadly, it’s not a lot. Apparently, most people come in to take a few pictures, and they never seem to return.
So the next time you’re in Detroit, I encourage you to stop at the Detroit Public Library and check it out. For more information, you can go to http://www.detroit.lib.mi.us/content/harwell-collection or call them at (313)481-1401.