I wouldn't have guessed that I'd be encouraging baseball fans to make a special trip to Downtown Phoenix during this Spring Training season. No, there are no autograph sessions or practice fields at Central Avenue and McDowell. Of course, there's no stadium there either. So, what's the attraction? It's a very special exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum where you can see some of the rarest and most important baseball cards in the history of the sport.
Ken Kendrick, a longtime collector and the managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has curated the collection. It features 16 of the top 20 rated sports trading cards in the entire world, along with an additional 25 highly-valued baseball trading cards. The exhibition includes baseball's rarest and most famous collectible: a T206 Honus Wagner trading card. The collection includes Topps rookie cards for Baseball Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Henry "Hank" Aaron, and Sandy Koufax. It also includes a rare Bowman 1954 Ted Williams card, as well as cards of players who helped mold baseball history: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Satchel Paige, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Mays.
Kendrick starting collecting baseball cards when he was a young boy. Like many of us did he bought those packs of trading cards that had that terrific bubble gum inside! He amassed a collection of cards that featured the players he admired during the 1950s.
As he got older, his interest in trading cards waned, but not his love for the game of baseball. Later, as an adult, he discovered that his mother had saved the cards he'd collected as a young man. Those cards formed the basis for what has become The Diamondbacks Collection, named in honor of our Arizona team of which Kendrick is part owner and managing general partner.
This marks the first time that the collection has been exhibited west of the Mississippi and the first time to be formally exhibited in Arizona. The exhibition was on view at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for three years.
What: The Ultimate Collection: Iconic Baseball Cards from the Diamondbacks Collection
When: March 9 through April 24, 2016
Where: Phoenix Art Museum at 1625 N Central Avenue in Phoenix. Here is a map with directions, including how to get to the museum by METRO Light Rail.
How much: This is a specially-ticketed limited-engagement exhibition. Tickets for the exhibition are $8 in addition to the required General Museum Admission. The special ticket also includes admission to all other special engagement exhibitions during the dates specified above, including Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane (through March 27), and Super Indian: Fritz Scholder 1967-1980. The tickets can be reserved online at tickets.phxart.org. Admission into this special exhibition is free for Museum Members. Here are the hours and regular admission prices. Please note that on free admission days at the museum, special exhibitions are not included. You can still see them, but the charge for the special exhibitions may be higher than $8.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.