Preservation Society seeks baseball memorabilia for display in Yellowstone County museum

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNE
Outlook staff writer
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell. Billings Baseball Preservation Society board members are seen at the Yellowstone County Museum last week. The Society is seeking donations for a permanent display that will chronicle the rich history of baseball in Yellowstone County. From the left is BBPS Board Member Jack Bayne, YCM Director Matthew Fesmire, BBPS Secretary/Treasurer Sam Studiner, BBPS President Shawn Heringer and BBPS Board Member Rick DeVore. Not pictured is Ron Sexton, also a member of the board.
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell.  Baseball memorabilia and souvenirs are being sought by the Yellowstone County Museum for a permanent display.

Laurel and the surrounding communities have a rich baseball history dating back to the “town teams” of the late 19th century.
The Laurel Farmer’s Union team won several league championships in the 1940s and the Laurel Dodgers American Legion teams have won 10 state championships since the 1950s.
Now the Yellowstone County Museum and the Billings Baseball Preservation Society have partnered to offer a permanent display, chronicling more than a century of America’s Pastime in Yellowstone County.
They are seeking donations from anyone with baseball memorabilia or souvenirs from any area teams, at any level, and from any decade or century.
BBPS President Shawn Heringer said, “By partnering with the YCM [established in 1956], the BBPS has ensured a permanent and sustainable home for baseball artifacts and memorabilia for future generations to enjoy. Our goal is to preserve the rich history of baseball in Billings and the greater Yellowstone County.”
The Society is an independent, not-for-profit, educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball in Yellowstone County with a mission to preserve and focus on all levels of the entity including:
• Professional baseball
• Collegiate baseball
• American Legion baseball
• Little League baseball
• Town team/semi pro baseball
• Hall of Fame Inductions
The BBPS formed in the fall of 2008 with the aim of collecting and preserving baseball artifacts. They originally had plans for a $3.5 million museum at Dehler Park, but when fundraising stalled due to the economic downturn, they sought an alternative site. BBPS Board Member and retired Laurel Middle School teacher, Jack Bayne, started discussions with YCM President Charlie Yegen.
“It took a few years, but both boards met and decided to join together to preserve the baseball memorabilia under the oversight of the YCM. They have the resources and expertise to collect, catalogue, store and display the artifacts,” Heringer said.
The Society is seeking to collect through donation, baseball artifacts, works of art, literature, photographs, movies, memorabilia and related materials which focus on the history of the game in Yellowstone County, including players and those elected to the Hall of Fame.
YCM Curator, Kathy Barton, said donated items will be treated with museum standards.
“They will be assigned numbers and labelled and cataloged according to standard collections care practices. We have a new storage room dedicated to the baseball collection where everything will be securely stored in archival conditions.”
Barton said items can be brought to the museum, but asks to be notified in advance.
“We will complete the donation paperwork at the time we receive the items. If you live out of town we can discuss shipping the items, over the phone. If donors want the tax credit they are responsible for having a third party appraise the item before the donation.”
They also are accepting temporary loans for items that may have high sentimental or financial value.
The permanent baseball exhibit will open on Saturday, Oct. 7, and coincide with the YCM Howling at the Moon fundraiser dinner from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Individual tickets are $50 and this years theme is World War I, with costumes encouraged.
“We are very appreciative of Charlie Yegen and the rest of the YCM board for partnering with the BBPS. Without them, we would not have this opportunity to share the memorabilia with the community,” Heringer said.
Anyone with memorabilia they wish to loan or donate can contact the Yellowstone County Museum at (406) 256-6811 and speak with Barton or YCM Director Matthew Fesmire.

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