By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
By the end of the year, sports fans will be able to see Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 rookie uniform, the 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series Trophy and Hank Aaron’s uniform worn in 1974 when he broke the career home run record on the Florida Atlantic University campus.
Boca Raton resident, former Kansas City Royals owner and sports fan Avron Fogelman is donating his personal sports memorabilia collection to the school.
The collection consists of 562 pieces and it is considered to be one of the largest private sports collections owned by an individual.
Soon, it will be on display at the newly constructed Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence.
The Fogelman Sports Museum at the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence is slated to open in December.
FAU President John Kelly said the exhibit will attract people from all over the country and even the world.
“It’s a jaw dropper,” he said of the collection. “It’s really great stuff.”
The exhibit will be about 3,500-square-feet and is being paid for by Fogelman. In addition to donating the items, Fogelman will donate $1.8 million to pay for the design, construction, and furnishing costs for the new space, as well as hiring and training of museum staff.
Total, the collection and cash donation is estimated to be valued at about $10 million. FAU officials said it is the fifth largest one-time donation in the university’s history.
The goal, Kelly said, is to create a destination for sports lovers and history buffs to come to learn about what was going on in history through a sports lens.
“It will make a really fascinating experience of American history,” he said. “We are going to display it in a way that will attract people from all over.”
Fogelman said he began collecting sports memorabilia about 50 years ago because of his love of sports.
His first item was a team signed football by the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins. The most meaningful piece in the collection is actually two, Babe Ruth’s first and last New York Yankee uniform.
He said he selected FAU as the place to house his collection because he believes it is the best location to share the history and importance of sports to American society.
“Creating an exhibit to display this collection is a way for us to protect our history; it is a living, breathing account of our country’s history, America’s Pastime and other sports told through artifacts, my own personal stories and the stories of my friends,” Fogelman said. “If we forget our history we cannot serve as good stewards of our future. FAU understands how to display this collection so it educates and inspires as many people as possible.”
President Kelly said the exhibit will serve the university’s academic programs including MBA Sports Management. Space will be allocated for lectures and post-tour discussions, and the museum will be a free attraction for locals, tourists and sports aficionados.
“Securing this collection is a point of pride for our university,” Kelly said. “Avron’s passion for sports, coupled with his lifelong dedication to education are evident through this generous donation. His desire to bring sports history to life will manifest through our plans for academic integration and community engagement.”
The museum will offer visitors a visual progression of American sports alongside vignettes of the country’s growth, providing historical context and opportunities for intergenerational connections.
Kelly recalled the first time Fogelman brought up his collection. Kelly said Fogelman was discussing the history of baseball and its influence on American history with a faculty member.
“I got intrigued by it,” Kelly said of how Fogelman connected baseball and history.
When he went to see the collection, he said he expected the usual items, signed cards, some bats and uniforms. But he said he was blown away by the items Fogleman obtained.
“It was beyond description,” Kelly said. “It was an unbelievable history lesson.”
Some highlights of the memorabilia on display will include:
- The 13 original rules of basketball by James Naismith
- Babe Ruth’s pinstripe uniform pants worn on his first day as a New York Yankee in 1921
- Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 rookie uniform
- Roger Maris’ uniform worn in 1961 when he broke the single season home run record
- Hank Aaron’s uniform worn in 1974 when he broke the career home run record
- 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series Trophy
- Final cleats worn by football great Jim Thorpe
- Football signed by the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins
- The 1969 Ryder Cup Trophy
- Baseballs signed by sports legends, entertainers, politicians and historical figures