Guthrie County welcomes ‘Hometown Teams’
“Why do teams shake hands?”
As a display of good sportsmanship.
“Who threw the first pitch to start baseball season?”
President William Howard Taft.
“Why is the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ often played at athletic events?”
During the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, bands played the “Star-Spangled Banner” to honor World War I Veterans. Fans loved the performance and other teams and other sports adopted the song, and an American tradition was born in 1931. The song officially became the national anthem.
These are just a few of the sports history facts now spread throughout the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library in Guthrie Center, thanks to a visiting Smithsonian exhibition.
Visitors gathered outside the library Saturday morning as they listened to music fill the town from the AC/GC school pep band.
Following their performance, the crew from the musical “Six-On-Six” put on a sneak-peak performance before the show opens on 7 p.m. July 5 in the AC/GC High School auditorium.
Finally, it was time.
Dale Menning, Dennis Kunkle and Jim Vandevanter stretched a red ribbon across the front of the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library, and with one quick snip, the ribbon was cut and the day began.
Visitors flooded into the library to examine the new Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” that was carefully assembled throughout the library.
The exhibition recognizes the role sports teams and players play in everyday American lives.
Simple phrases such as “The ball is in your court,” which originated from tennis, now lives in everyday diction.
The exhibition told stories and the biographies of sports heros such as Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player to play in the Major Leagues, and connected people with their love and fascination with sports in America.
Pat Sleister, director of the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library, said the ribbon cutting and event was just to get people out and having a good time.
“The focus is to get people remembering and talking about it and just having a good time with the topic,” she said. “The Smithsonian put this all together, and when it gets done, it will go back to them, and they will refurbish it, and it will probably go back to some other state after that.”
The traveling exhibition will be displayed at the Guthrie Center library from June 23 to Aug. 5.
After viewing the exhibition, attendees made their way outside, where United Methodist Women prepared food for a tailgate-themed lunch.
The Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library will have a similar setup while hosting events most weekends until the exhibition leaves on Aug. 5, Sleister said.
Sleister said the public library in Guthrie Center serves a similar purpose as a Main Street in most towns does: to bring people together.
“We just want them to get that good feeling of hometown — community,” she said. “That’s just kind of what it’s all about. Getting people here. Getting them talking. There will be games for the kids to play.”
The Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library will host events on the following dates:
— 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 30: Iowa State Day — tailgate party with speakers Merv Krakau, Len Snyder and Ryan Sloth.
— 1 to 3 p.m. July 7: Women’s six-on-six basketball day — six-on-six players and coaches are invited to share their stories, led by Karen Mason from Iowa Women’s archives from the University of Iowa.
— July 14: Baseball day — Tailgate party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Iowa Cubs speakers Bill Krejci and more, John Liepa baseball card collection on display from 1 to 4 p.m., and a presentation by John Liepa at 2 p.m.
— 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 17: Visit from former Olympic wrestler Dan Gable.
— 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 21: University of Iowa Day — tailgate party with a visit from former coach Kent Stephenson.