By: Ben Hirschman Lynn University Contributing Writer
Joel Platt, founder of Sports Immortals Museum, has spent seven decades and traveled more than a million miles to accumulate the most valuable collection of sports memorabilia in the world.
Dubbed by The Smithsonian Institute as “the most outstanding collection on all sports,” Sports Immortals Museum is a hidden treasure in downtown Boca.
When Platt was just 4 years old he was involved in a gas explosion, and while recovering from injuries he received, he said Babe Ruth visited him in a dream, urging him not to give up on his recovery and encouraging him to become a major league baseball player or build a museum for sports greats.
Platt went on to have a successful college career as a shortstop at Duquesne University, however injuries derailed his course to the major leagues. Though his hopes of becoming a major leaguer went out the window, he still had dreams of his museum in the rearview mirror.
Between 1960 and 1985, Platt purchased eight of the largest sports collections in existence.
“I was fortunate to be able to corner the market on sports collectibles before they became valuable commodities,” Platt said.
Platt’s museum collection includes all major sports. The museum houses hundreds of Muhammad Ali items including robes, gloves and shoes. He has Roberto Clemente’s bat from his rookie season, his 1971 World Series jersey when he was named MVP. The list goes on and on.
“Just about everything you could think of, from every great, we have,” he said.
Platt personally cultivated relationships with athletes, as well as the widows of sports greats with hopes of obtaining items, creating an outlet for these legends legacies to live on. As a result, he was in the position to obtain all of Jim Thorpe’s items from his third wife when she passed away.
“You can’t repeat what my father did in his journey today. You could probably redo the journey and come back empty handed,” said Jim Platt, Vice President.
Though none of the 30,000 items on display in the museum are for sale, 20,000 items are available for purchase in the memorabilia mart; it is a museum within a museum.
Though Platt has achieved his dream of preserving the sports greats, his mission is nowhere near complete. Platt has big plans for his collection; he has hopes of developing an international hall of fame, sponsoring traveling exhibitions, and creating a sports curriculum with a major university.
Sports Immortals Museum is located at 6830 North Federal Highway in Boca. Visit sportsimmortalsmuseum.com for more information.