Dodgers Pop-up Museum has something for fans of every generation

Baseball is a generational thing. Ask a 60+ year-old Dodger fan who their favorite player was and you’ll hear names like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Ask a 40 or 50-year-old and it might be Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser or Kirk Gibson. Ask a 20 or 30-year-old (or younger) and the answer will undoubtedly be Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and, of course, Cody Bellinger.

But regardless of how old you are or who your favorite Dodger players were or are, there is an exceptionally good chance that you will find something about them at the Pop-up Museum currently open at Dodger Stadium every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (excluding Christmas and New Year’s Day) from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through March 5, 2017.

A group of eager Dodger fans enter the Pop-up Museum located on the Left Field Reserve Level at Dodger Stadium. The museum will be opened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through March 5, 2018.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

The 2017 – 2018 version of the Dodgers Pop-up Museum, which coincides with the franchise’s upcoming 60th anniversary season in Los Angeles, had its grand opening on Friday morning under the direction of longtime Dodgers historian Mark Langill. The hundreds of items on display are but a fraction of the estimated $30 million collection of 74-year-old sports memorabilia collector Gary Cypres and is the largest such collection in the world.

How was the Pop-up Museum received by Dodger fans on it’s opening day?

“I think the reaction if you’re a Dodger fan, there’s no way you can walk into this building and not have a reaction because something is going to catch your eye no matter how old you are,” said Langill. “If you started back with the LA franchise in ’58, we’ve got, starting off, from the first programs from the Coliseum and then the championship in ’59, but other eras. If it’s Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey, if it’s Koufax / Drysdale, if it’s Hershiser / Gibson, there’s always something here from the last 60 years. I think that’s what is going to be emphasized and the people, they might not realize that originally the new kids on the block are now the senior citizens in terms of continuous service to a community as far as a sports team. We’ve been here the longest. We were here before the Lakers and the Kings, the Rams had left for a long time.

“This type of exhibit will reinforce why so many generations follow this team and why, regardless of the standings, that baseball and the Dodgers are always part of the community because it’s year-round because of the weather, and because of all the programs that we do,” added Langill. “It’s just part of your lifestyle if you’re a Dodger fan. You don’t wait for opening day, you still talk about it during the winter and this is a great excuse to come visit your favorite ballpark.”

Langill is very cognizant that baseball is a generational thing. In fact, he believes that this is what makes the game and being a fan so great. He is also well aware that much, perhaps even most of the attention at this year’s pop-up museum will be on the new ‘new kids on the block.’

“As it should be, because I don’t think you can tell a 10-year-old about Drysdale and Koufax and expect them to be excited,” Langill said. “You really have to worry about what’s in front of them. If you want to call it the selfie crowd, the Instagram crowd, that’s fine because baseball evolves around technology and so does the accommodations for fans.

“Before, it was the autograph and now the selfie is the new autograph, which is fine,” he added. “As long as fans enjoy themselves they can come to the ballpark for different reasons at different times of their life, that’s something that’s never going to change. You can always come out to the ballpark and depending on where you are in the stage of your life, if you’re a young person you’re going to root for the Bellingers, the Puigs, you’re going to root for the young players, but if you’re an old-timer, you still can have your memories of Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey and the teams of the 1960’s, and I think that’s what’s important to show here – the range of different ways that people can follow this franchise.

“Even if you’re from another country, if there’s a player from your country or there’s somebody that you can identify with, or somebody who’s just exciting – I hear so many people say that they’re fans of Puig because he’s exciting, they just perceive that he is fun player and it’s somebody that you want to follow – and the proof is in the pudding because you can be anywhere in Southern California in the most unlikely place there’s somebody wearing a Puig shirt,” concluded Langill.

Dodgers historian Mark Langill (center) fielded questions for various members of the media during Friday’s grand opening of the 2017 / 2018 Pop-up Museum at Dodger Stadium. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

According to Kelly Rosales, a 27-year-old lifelong Dodger fan from Burbank, California, Langill was spot-on with the generation thing.

“I loved it, especially that stuff over there (the 2017 postseason display). It took me back to the whole World Series and playoffs. It’s just amazing,” Rosales said.

As for her favorite player, Rosales had a bit more difficulty naming just one.

“Ooh … Kershaw, Bellinger with the beginning he’s had from the get go, Seager, Taylor impressed me a lot, and Jansen,” Rosales said. “It’s really hard to pick just one, I really think the whole team in general is just amazing, and the whole series was just incredible from the get go. From Astros to Dodgers, the comeback was like a tennis match, back and forth. It was just amazing.”

As you might expect, Rosales wasn’t the only member of the ‘selfie crowd’ (as Langill put it) at Friday’s Dodgers Pop-up Museum debut. So too was 33-year-old Robert Martiz of Whittier, California. Without hesitation, Martiz was very specific about what his favorite part of the museum was

“My favorite would probably have to be the Rookie of the Year jerseys. It just kind of reminds me of how awesome the Dodgers organization is at scouting new talent,” Martiz said. “And even though they have the World Series trophies and everything else, that has probably the most significant meaning towards me.”

One of the more popular exhibits at the Pop-up Museum are the Dodgers Rookie of the Year jerseys.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Like many of today’s well-informed Dodger fans, Martiz is also familiar with the Dodgers minor league system which, as he sees it, could produce even more Rookie of the Year titles in the not-too-distant future.

“Looking at our farm system now, it’s insane to think that we’re not going to get a couple more in the next few years,” Martiz said.

As was the case with Rosales, that generational thing was also in play with Martiz. Although he is aware of the Koufax era, it’s the here and now that he is most interested in.

“To be honest, for me the most memorable are the most recent playoffs because I can relate to those players a lot more than the older players, although I appreciate the greatness of Koufax and Drysdale,” said Martiz. “That wall behind us of all the current players and the little tags about them, that really got us going.”

Ok, I admit it. I was seriously trying to figure out a way to buy this autographed microphone that was actually used by Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Is the Dodgers Pop-up Museum something that Martiz would tell his friends about and encourage them to give it a look?

“Oh absolutely,” he answered. “I’ve been Snapchatting the whole time here. It’s like from the major stuff like the jerseys to the real minor things like a World Series game costing six dollars x amount of years ago. Stuff like that is just kind of mind blowing.”

The ‘selfie crowd’ indeed.

 

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