Located within the premises of historic Fleming Stadium in Wilson, the museum allows visitors a look at plenty of artifacts that date back to the early 1900s. The 3,300-plus-square-foot site gives visitors plenty of history and an idea of just how big a grasp the state of North Carolina has on baseball.
Upon entering the museum, visitors aren’t greeted with large statues, bronzed gloves, or the likeness of great players. There are authentic stalls and seats from Fleming Stadium dating to 1938, but the museum keeps things simple, offering enough visuals and written information to keep its visitors in the know.
For instance, a long, three-sided display case encompasses the middle of the museum’s main room. Inside the case are hundreds of baseball cards of major leaguers, past and present, who were born in North Carolina. Names like Mark Grace, Trot Nixon, Kevin Millwood and Quinton McCracken are shown with the city where they are born.
The main room’s biggest attractions are the seven large display cases that show the North Carolina natives who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
One of those names is Rocky Mount native Buck Leonard. Some of Leonard’s artifacts include his Negro League Homestead Grays jersey, a signed contract and a small biography.
North Carolina’s rich minor league baseball history is sprinkled throughout the museum. A large plaque lists each city in the state that has fielded a minor league team.
For the minor league fan, the museum’s second room is the place to be. There is a wall dedicated to the minor leagues, which includes programs dating back as far as 1946 from teams in cities such as Rocky Mount, New Bern and Salisbury.
Yearbooks and programs from the Carolina Mudcats 2003 Southern League Championship, and a movie posters of the state’s claim to baseball fame, “Bull Durham,” are also on display.
A national baseball time line beginning with the late 1890s begins on the left side of the room and ends on the right. Visitors get an idea of how baseball began, expanded, struggled through two world wars, and came to be the game it is today.
The museum doesn’t forget about baseball’s previous separation as it devotes a wall to the Negro Leagues. Plenty of pictures, signed baseballs and books about the Negro Leagues, give visitors a glimpse at well known names such as Leonard and Satchel Paige and a history of the league that featured some great, but lesser-known, talent.
College and pro jerseys hang in the museum as well. In one display case sits signed jerseys of Nixon and Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. In between all the displays, visitors can take a look at the six steps in making a baseball bat, all the way from the raw timber to the lacquer finish.
A glimpse of the walls give visitors an idea of how historic the grounds of which they stand are. In 1961, Fleming Stadium played host to a home run derby that included Roger Maris and Harmon Killebrew.
History and baseball. The two go hand-in-hand. The North Carolina Baseball Museum does a good job of making sure the state’s name in baseball is preserved.