The National Museum of the United States Navy (NMUSN) to host a baseball-themed exhibition. Playball: Navy and the National Pastime will debut on April 2, 2018 ahead of the Washington Nationals season opener and the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Nationals Park. The exhibit will be on display through April 30, 2019 at the historic Washington Navy Yard at 736 Sicard Street SE, adjacent to the ballpark. The National Museum of the United States Navy is free and open to the general public.

Making its debut on the east coast, Playball explores the relationship between baseball and the U.S. Navy from its earliest years through modern day. The exhibit highlights the role of fitness in the early Navy leading to the birth of baseball in the Navy, the game during times of war, and the inclusion of women and minorities.

NMUSN Managing Director and Senior Curator Mark Weber states, “Since the birth of our national pastime, American Sailors played baseball whenever they could get ashore to do so. Championship teams were the pride of many Navy ships and helped to spread the game around the world. During World War II, noted players like Bob Feller and Larry Doby gave up their lucrative baseball careers in order to enlist in the Navy and defend their nation.”

Navy baseball trophies, uniforms, and equipment are highlighted in the exhibit, along with items from famous Major League players who served in the Navy. The United States Naval Academy’s longstanding baseball rivalry with West Point is also explored.

Among the most compelling artifacts are a bat and ball from the 1943 “Top of the World Series,” which were lent by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. U.S. Sailors and merchant mariners, after making the deadly convoy run to the Arctic port of Murmansk, USSR, played baseball to pass the time before their return journey to the U.S. With no equipment on hand, the men made a bat from a local pine tree and a hand-sewn ball from a ship’s rubber plug and an old boot. 

Special events and programs will be planned throughout the duration of the exhibit. Supplemental educational packets relating to Playball will also be available for visitors.