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“Hometown Heroes” show “Devotion and Determination”

A.C. Free Public Library partners with Smithsonian on Sports Exhibit

Boxing has been a huge staple of the Atlantic City sports scene over the years, but there’s more to sports history in A.C. than just pugilism. The city has hosted the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association’s state wrestling championships for a number of years. Did you know that former NBA player and coach Chris Ford starred at Atlantic City High School?

Or what about the fact that Johnny McDermott, the first American-born player to ever win the U.S. Open (1911 & 1912) and still the event’s youngest-ever winner, was the head golf professional at Atlantic City Country Club for a time?

The Atlantic City Free Public Library is hosting a Smithsonian Institution Exhibit and is one of just six organizations in the state selected to host “Hometown Teams” - a traveling exhibition that celebrates American sports and sportsmanship. Atlantic City is the second stop on the Hometown Teams’ 2014 road trip.

“We are honored to host an exhibit from a well-known institution such as the Smithsonian in Atlantic City,” Library Archivist Heather Halpin Perez said. “We think it’ll be a great opportunity for residents and visitors to see a national exhibit locally.”

The exhibit will be displayed at the Noyes Art Garage Stockton College, located at the Wave parking garage at 2200 Fairmount Ave., through May 4. Visitors will be able to view the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday during that time. The Smithsonian developed this display especially for smaller museums or rural audiences.

As a companion to Hometown Teams, the Atlantic City Free Public Library will present a new exhibit, “The Atlantic City Experience: Devotion and Determination.” This sports-based exhibit, which will also be located at the Art Garage, will showcase some of the people and places that are a part of the fabric of the city’s rich sports history.  Highlights will include Atlantic City Olympians and all-stars, women sports greats both before and after the enactment of Title IX, and the many venues in Atlantic City where sporting events have occurred.

Coming up over the next week will be special presentations and speakers, called “Pep Talks”:

  • On Thursday, May 1 at 6 p.m., guest speakers Pete Thompson and Mark Melhorn will discuss sports journalism in the 21st century. Thompson is the sports anchor for WMGM-TV, the NBC affiliate found on Ch. 40 in Atlantic City. Melhorn is the sports editor for the Press of Atlantic City.
  • On Friday, May 2 at 1 p.m., Atlantic City Historical Museum Coordinator and library staff member Beth Ryan will present and “Share and Tell” in which she will discuss Atlantic City Sports Artifacts.
The theme of the Hometown Teams exhibition is the ongoing cultural processes that have made America such a celebrator of sports, through teamwork, leadership and team pride. Through a selection of photographs, artifacts and memorabilia, the Hometown Teams exhibition explores various aspects of sports and teams, from how and why we play these games to what makes us fans and why we root for our home teams. The story is full of surprises about familiar games, histories of our teams and sports traditions, and how sports and teams have become such an integral part of American society.

“Atlantic City is an American sports story,” Atlantic City Historical Museum Coordinator Beth Ryan said. “From Boardwalk Hall to the beaches, from the basketball courts to the baseball diamonds, we have many stories to tell. The Smithsonian exhibit will allow us the opportunity to bring these Atlantic City stories to light with special programming that visitors and residents of all ages can enjoy.”

For more info about this or other events at the Atlantic City Free Public Library, call 609-345-2269, ext. 3112.

Or click this link to an interactive map presented by the Atlantic City Free Public Library which highlights Atlantic City’s sports history.