On Location: Inside The Penn State All-Sports Museum

Located inside Beaver Stadium is the Penn State All-Sports Museum.  Shortly after it opened in 2002, I remember taking a tour through it.  That was long before Sports Card Info existed, and I’ve always wanted to go back.  That’s exactly what I did over the weekend.

This museum is a mecca for Penn State fans.  Between the two floors it covers major moments from every sport they’re involved in.  Penn State memorabilia galore.  Given that the school was founded in 1855, it has a lot of history.  Football probably gets the most coverage, but all sports get their good share of recognition.  You don’t need to be a Penn State fan to appreciate all of the historical artifacts on display here.  Just being a sports fan is enough.

Once you’re finished visiting the museum, a guide will take you into the stadium.  Getting to see the field without anyone else around is really cool.  Usually the place is packed with 100,000 fans.

Before leaving, I stopped by the gift shop and found a new pin for my collection.  I was looking for a bobblehead, but didn’t find any.  The closest I got to a bobblehead was a Penn State-themed nutcracker.

I didn’t realize that John Montgomery Ward attended Penn State.  He assisted in helping them start their baseball program, and played one season for them in 1875.  Then he got kicked out for stealing some chickens.  Ward eventually went on to have a very successful professional baseball career.  The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted him in 1964.  You can find cards of him in the 19th century Allen & Ginter and Old Judge sets.

If you’re passing through State College, PA I highly suggest stopping.  They don’t charge for admission, but donations are appreciated.

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The 1886 College Nine.  Standing: Halter, Jackson, Rose, Mock, Quigley, Mitchell.  Seated: McLean, Gibson, McClaren, Lencz.  Robert Gibson actually made it to the pros.

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Vintage Penn State baseball memorabilia.  Two game baseballs from 1905 and one from 1906.

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John Cappelletti’s Heisman trophy

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1986 National Championship trophy

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1969 Orange Bowl trophy

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Early 1900s basketball jersey.  Game ball from 1921.

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The Gene Wettstone Most Valuable Gymnast Award

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The Nittany Lion mascot is based on the eastern mountain lion which went extinct during the late 1800s.  This one was shot in 1856.  Considering the techniques for stuffing an animal back then are nothing like they are today, its in great condition.  Its probably one of the finest examples of a taxidermied eastern mountain lion.

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Sears sponsored fencing trophies.  When was the last time Sears could sponsor anything?

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2016 Little League World Series Pin Finds

The Little League World Series is a mecca when it comes to pins.  You can find them literally everywhere.  Over on the Little League grounds you’ll find corporate sponsors handing out pins all the time.  Certain sponsors hand out a specific amount of pins at different times throughout the day.  Others require you to register and wear some type of bracelet and/or complete a carnival-like game.  I’m not a fan of the whole bracelet registration idea.  It seems to be universal this year and covers multiple corporate booths.  I know these organizations like to collect information about people, but sometimes it can be a little annoying.  You shouldn’t have to sign your life away.  Sometimes marketing “experts” can take things over the top.  Luckily many of the employees representing these companies understand if you didn’t register and get a bracelet.  For the most part they’ll give you a pin anyway.  Based on my experience this year, Honda was very understanding about this.  Kellogg’s not so much.  Its been getting more and more like this over the last few years.  Fully anticipating that I would run into this situation, I took a handful of my Sports Card Info pins with me to use as trade bait.  That was a good idea, because I ended up using all of them.  To each his own.  I’m sure many people think the bracelet thing is a great idea.

Before the corporate booths opened up, I took a look around the gift shop that is located on the concourse.  The gift shop will get full as the day goes on.  That’s why its best to visit it early.  Little League now sells a 4-card set that contains actual infield dirt from Volunteer and Lamade Stadium.  The three Lamade Stadium cards are individually numbered out of (300), while the Volunteer Stadium one is the rarest with only (100).  All four cards are made by Choice Marketing SportsCards.  Choice is known for making minor league team sets, but I’ve never seen them make relic cards.  I pulled the trigger on the Volunteer Stadium relic.

Pins are not limited to just being found around Little League.  Many businesses throughout Williamsport make pins each year.  Some give them away, and others you can purchase.  Dunkin’ Donuts, Genetti Hotel, and Dairy Queen have become regular stops.  Dairy Queen ran out of pins after three days.  Not every business advertises that they have pins.  The Clothier gave me a redemption coupon to get a free 2016 Grand Slam Parade pin at the Chamber of Commerce, and referred me to Kinley Jewelers.  Kinley Jewelers referred me to the Bullfrog Brewery.  4th Street in Williamsport ended up being a gold mine.  Tons of businesses have pins.  The possibilities are endless.  I ended up coming home with (24) pins.  About half of them were free.  I’ve never had pins from Kinley Jewelers or the Bullfrog Brewery before.

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Casey At The Bat statue

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2016 Choice Little League World Series Volunteer Stadium Authentic Game-Used Infield Dirt Relic #’ed/100

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Honda

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Dunkin’ Donuts

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Bomb Pop

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Bullfrog Brewery

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Kinley Jewelers

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The Clothier

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Canon

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Little League District OH-5 blue helmet gator batter

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2016 Grand Slam Parade

Harrisburg Senators vs. Akron RubberDucks – 7/9/16 – Floyd Life-Sized Bobblehead Unveiled

Its almost been twenty years since I attended my first professional baseball game on City Island.  After the Harrisburg Senators (AA of the Nationals) cancelled their Star Wars-themed bobblehead last year I wasn’t sure if I’d go back.  But given how close I am to this stadium, it doesn’t take much for me to change my mind.

On Saturday, July 9th, the Harrisburg Senators gave out Cliff Floyd bobbleheads to the first 1,500 fans.  This bobblehead is an exact replica of the life-sized bobblehead of him they unveiled before the game.  Back in April they did the same thing with Vladimir Guerrero, and next month the Senators will do it with Bryce Harper.  Guerrero, Floyd, and Harper will round out their inaugural life-sized Bobblehead Hall of Fame class.  This was the first time I had ever seen a life-sized bobblehead in person.  I wasn’t sure where they were going to be located.  It turned out that both of them were right behind my seat near the end of the walkway.  They look really cool.  Cliff Floyd was suppose to be there, but couldn’t make it.  Instead he sent a video message.  I think after the season ends, these giant bobbleheads will be moved to a more permanent location.

This was the first time I had been to a Senators game since First National Bank purchased Metro Bank.  Nothing really changed much other than the signs.  Before grabbing some dinner, I took a look around the gift shop.  I picked up a 25th and 30th anniversary pin, plus a Forever Collectibles Harrisburg Senators retro-bobblehead.  When returning to my seat with chicken fingers, fries, and ice cream, I found a baseball scout in my spot.  He was just looking for a place to sit.  I thought he wanted to sign me to a team.  For a second there I thought I might get a deal like Mickey Moniak.  Once again my athletic talent has been overlooked.

The Senators played the Akron RubberDucks on Saturday and lost 6-3.
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RubberDucks pitcher Rob Kaminsky

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Kaminsky and catcher Jeremy Lucas

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Senators pitcher Phillips Valdez

Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs. Buffalo Bisons – 6/19/16

Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple A affiliate of the Phillies), is one of the nicest minor league ballparks I’ve been to.  There really isn’t a bad seat in the stadium, unless the temperature is nearing 100° outside.  Then you’d at least want to have a seat in the shade.  My seat was not in the shade, so things got hot pretty fast.  The next time I order tickets I’m going to remember to ask for seats in Section 104 and up.  According to the usher that was working in my section, the game was a complete sellout.  I saw a bunch of empty seats though.  Those people either decided not to come because of the heat or were in attendance but hung out in the shade.

The IronPigs played the Buffalo Bisons (Triple A affiliate of the Blue Jays) on Sunday.  Former Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown currently plays for the Bisons.  So does first basemen Casey Kotchman.  Kotchman played with the Angels for awhile, and then went on to the Braves.  He bounced around with a few other teams, before signing a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.  I remember his rookies were a big deal in 2002.  David Buchanan pitched for the IronPigs, and I got to see Darin Ruf.  Future Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford was also playing.  They say Crawford’s fielding has been good, but his work at the plate could use some improving.

One way to get out of the sun was to visit their Majestic Clubhouse Store.  Compared to last year, it wasn’t stocked as much.  They could’ve been running low on merchandise because of the doubleheader they played the day before.  Either way, I picked-up a new Coca-Cola Park t-shirt and a few lanyards.  With the Little League World Series coming up in August, I’m going to need those lanyards to store pins.  One of the lanyards has a Star Wars theme to it, while the other is covered in bacon.

For lunch I had a cheesesteak.  I’ve eaten hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and pretzels at games before, but never a cheesesteak.  It was really good.  I finished it off with some chocolate ice cream.  Out of all the ballparks I’ve been to, I think Coca-Cola Park has the widest range of different food options.

The next minor league game I’m scheduled to attend is in Harrisburg on July 9th.  That evening the Senators will be unveiling a life-sized bobblehead of Cliff Floyd.  Cliff Floyd is scheduled to be there, and fans will receive a replica bobblehead.

The IronPigs ended up losing 5-3 in 10 innings.  While going through the gate I received a set of BBQ tools as a giveaway.

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Buffalo Bisons

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Remember this dude from the Angels?

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Darin Ruf (batting) A.J. Jimenez (catching)

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J.P. Crawford leading off 1st base

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Darin Ruf

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J.P. Crawford

Pin Pickups From The 2015 Little League World Series

We’re neck deep into the 2015 Little League World Series.  Games are being played, merchandise is flying off the shelves, and pins are being handed out.

Its hard to believe the first time I went to the Little League World Series I never visited any of the corporate booths.  Now its really the only reason I go.  Sure its free to watch the games, but I can do that at home in the air conditioning.  On Saturday morning I decided to make the annual trip up to South Williamsport to see what was going on.

Arriving early really helps to cut down on traffic.  I arrived in South Williamsport around 10:00 a.m. and the first game didn’t start until 1:00 p.m.  There was no traffic at all.  Before heading over to Little League, I stopped at Reptiland.  Reptiland is a zoo that you pass on the way to Williamsport.  They have a Little League pin this year.  Its a two piece pin.  One part you get at Reptiland and the other you’ll find at the Little League Museum.  In order to get one you have to fight a live gator… just kidding.  After that it was on to Dunkin’ Donuts and Little League.

Most of the corporate booths didn’t open until 11:00 a.m.  Some of these companies are making it more difficult to get pins every year.  Companies like Lance, All, Bomb Pop, and Honda require people to fill out an endless amount of paperwork in order to get a bracelet which can make you eligible for a pin.  I know companies like to collect data for marketing research, but I think in some cases its getting a little ridiculous.  Luckily some of the people working for these companies will just hand you free pins if you ask without having to go through all the red tape.

After spending about three hours at Little League eating lunch and picking up as many pins as possible it was time to leave.  As game time approached the crowd got much larger.  This might have been the biggest crowd I’ve seen at Little League.  Most likely because the Red Land team from York is playing in it.  Lots of businesses in town have specially made Little League pins.  On the way home I stopped by The Clothier and Genetti Hotel.  You could probably spend all day everyday in Williamsport during the Little League World Series and not get every pin.  There are just so many.  Some are more difficult to obtain than others.  ESPN and Oakley pins seem to be the most difficult to find.  I ended up with twenty new pins for my collection.  Just a few of them are duplicates.  About half of them I got for free.

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State College Spikes vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers – 8/9/15 – The Bus Bobblehead Night

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A lot of fans came out to watch the State College Spikes take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Sunday night.  Good baseball wasn’t the only reason people came out though.  It was Jerome Bettis bobblehead night!!!  The first 1,000 fans through the gates received a commemorative Jerome Bettis Hall of Fame Gold Jacket bobblehead.  I think the coolest part of this specific bobblehead is that the platform he’s standing on is in the shape of a bus.  Jerome Bettis was once or still is involved with a company that owns different minor league baseball teams including the Spikes.  That’s why I think they did this.  Plus he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame over the weekend too and is a PA favorite.

The Spikes went on to win 4-1 over the Scrappers.  Instead of having chicken fingers and fries, I went for a cheeseburger this time.  I could smell them on the grill while waiting to get in.  Everything in the gift shop was 20% off as long as it had black and/or gold on it.  So I picked myself up a new “Fear The Dear” t-shirt.

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LuCKy the Lion from Lion Country Kia.

Crosscutters vs. Muckdogs – 7/17/15 – Doubleheader – Bobbleheads

On Friday evening the Williamsport Crosscutters played a doubleheader against the Batavia Muckdogs.  Williamsport went on to win both games 4-3 and 8-0.  The first 1,000 fans through the gate for Game 1 received a Pat Borders bobblehead.  Pat Borders is the new Manager of the Crosscutters, and was the 1992 World Series MVP with the Blue Jays.

Before finding a seat, I took a stroll through the Saw Mill Gift Shop.  I was able to pickup three new pins I didn’t have.  The pins I found look to be leftover stadium giveaways they gave out last year.

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Jose Pujols at bat.

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Jesus Posso at bat.

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Gabriel Castellanos pitching for the Muckdogs.

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Missing the “N”.

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Pat Borders bobblehead given to the first 1,000 fans.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs. Louisville Bats – 6/28/15

For the last couple of years I’ve been wanting to see the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple A of the Phillies) play.  The IronPigs played the Louisville Bats in a doubleheader since Saturday’s game was rained out.  The giveaway was a popcorn bowl shaped like an IronPigs batting helmet.  I didn’t get one because they were for kids 17 and under.  I usually only attend games when the home team is giving out bobbleheads, but this being my first time at Coca-Cola Park the giveaway really didn’t matter to me.

The first game of the day started at 1:05 p.m. and the gates opened at 12:00 p.m.  Right before they opened the gates, a machine turned on and covered the entire crowd in tiny bubbles.  Moments later I got to see the inside of Coca-Cola Park.  My seat was right behind home plate in Section 111.  I was also sitting right in front of the cinnamon roasted almonds, pecans, and cashews stand.  In all of the stadiums I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ve seen such a variety of food.  On one side you have pulled pork sandwiches and bacon on a stick.  On the other you’ve got ice cream and fried calamari rings.  In between are the hot dogs, chicken fingers, hamburgers, pizza, pretzels, etc…  After lunch I visited the Majestic Clubhouse Store.  They sucked me in with the OYO minifigures.  I picked up (2) OYOs, (2) t-shirts, (5) pins, and a bobblehead of their mascot Ferrous.  Next month they will be releasing a new t-shirt that combines the IronPigs logo with Iron Man.

Since it was a doubleheader, both games were only seven innings long.  The IronPigs lost the first game 6-1, but won the second game 8-3.  Coca-Cola Park is overall probably one of the nicest stadiums I’ve ever been to.  I look forward to going back.

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Who wants a Pepsi?

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FeFe

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Russ Canzler

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Russ Canzler

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My girlfriend is a total pig 🙂

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Lancaster Barnstormers vs. Bridgeport Bluefish – 5/30/15

Every summer I try and get to a handful of minor league games.  Specifically on days they’re giving out bobbleheads.  This year I’ve got tickets for the Williamsport Crosscutters, Harrisburg Senators, State College Spikes, and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  On the day I go see the Iron Pigs they aren’t giving out bobbleheads, but I’ve never been to Coca-Cola Park before.  So that will be a whole new experience for me.

The Lancaster Barnstormers give out great bobbleheads.  They aren’t always of players, managers, and/or mascots related to the team either.  Many times their bobbleheads focus on historical or famous individuals from the Lancaster area.  On Saturday, May 30th the Barnstormers gave out bobbleheads of Robert Fulton to the first 1,000 fans.

Robert Fulton was born in Little Britain, PA which is located in the southern portion of Lancaster.  He is credited with inventing the first commercially successful steamboat called Clermont.  Fulton was also commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus, which was one of the first usable submarines in history.  Early torpedoes used by the British Royal Navy were another invention of his.

The Barnstormers have two more bobblehead nights this year.  On July 18th they will be giving out bobbleheads of golfer Jim Furyk.  Johnny Weir bobbleheads will be given out on July 31st.  While I was there, I picked up a new pin for my collection too.  They should be getting a few more new pins in later this season.  Lancaster won 10-0 that night.

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Cylo!

On Location: Inside The Pro Football Hall of Fame – Canton, OH

Over the weekend I took a trip to Canton, Ohio and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I first visited back in 1998.  That year, guys like Paul Krause and Anthony Munoz got inducted.  It was also the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were neck and neck in the single season home run race.

Going through the Hall of Fame is a blast!!!  They’ve really changed a lot since the last time I was there.  Right after buying your tickets to get in, you’re greeted by a photographer who will take your picture in front of a green screen.  When you’re finished touring the museum, you can stop and see your pictures before leaving.  They put a whole photo package together for you.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the holy land for any football fan.  You can sit there and open every high-end football card product on the market today, and it will never come close to the fun stuff you see inside this place.  All the way from professional football’s 1892 birth certificate to memorabilia used by players today.  The Hall of Fame covers everything.

Its difficult to pick what parts of the Hall of Fame are my favorite.  Every corner I turned there was another priceless artifact.  The older memorabilia fascinates me the most.  Mainly because its a miracle that its still around.  The Hall of Fame Gallery filled with all of the inductee busts is really cool too.  That was dramatically better looking than what I remember it being.  But if I had to pick one artifact to be my personal favorite, it would probably be the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The gift shop is massive and contains every NFL themed item you could possibly think of.  I bought three new pins, lanyard, golf shirt, and a Hall of Fame mini helmet.  I also ate lunch at the Hall of Fame Cafe.  They serve lots of stuff from hot dogs and hamburgers to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

Take a look!!!

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Pro Football’s Birth Certificate – this is an expense sheet from the Allegheny Athletic Association dated November 12, 1892.  The “game performance bonus to W. Heffelfinger for playing (cash) $500.00” is the earliest evidence of someone being paid to play football.

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Jim Thorpe’s Carlisle Indians Letterman Sweater.

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(Top Middle) Arnie Herber’s sideline coat, (Top Left) Butch Gibson’s 1934 N.Y. Giants jersey, (Top Right) “Wooky” Roberts Canton Bulldogs jersey.  Also seen in this picture is the helmet worn by Link Lyman in the 1934 NFL Championship Game, game ball signed by the 1925 N.Y. Giants, and coach’s cap worn by Redskins founder-owner George Preston Marshall.

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Jerseys of Bob Waterfield #7, Bronko Nagurski #3, and Sid Luckman #42.

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Jerseys of Johnny Unitas #19 and Doak Walker #37.

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Jerseys of Jim Brown #32, Lance Alworth’s AFL All-Star jersey #19 , and Sonny Jurgensen #9.  Helmets of Dick Butkus (left), and Tommy Nobis (right).

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Jerseys of Peyton Manning #18, Reggie White #92, and Tony Gonzalez #88.  Shoulder pads of Cortez Kennedy and college helmet of Larry Allen.

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Tim Tebow jersey – this jersey was worn during the playoff win over the Steelers in 2012.  Tebow threw an 80-yard bomb to win the game 29-23.

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Miami Dolphins Perfect Season.

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The “Immaculate Reception” Turf – Franco Harris removed this piece of turf at the exact spot where the “Immaculate Reception” took place in Three Rivers Stadium.

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Toys!!!

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The inaugural Hall of Fame class from 1963.

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Jim Thorpe

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Vince Lombardi

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O.J. Simpson

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Mike Ditka

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Dan Marino

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John Madden

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Team Postcards – (Left) 1911 Nutshell Tigers of Canton, (Right) Game action from a 1900 game.

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World Football League football – they didn’t make it.

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United States Football League football – they didn’t make it either 🙂

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Player bench from the last game Vince Lombardi coached at Lambeau Field.  Green Bay, Dec. 31, 1967.

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LeSean McCoy wore this jersey, gloves, and cleats in a game against the Lions in Dec. 2013.  On that day, in blizzard conditions, McCoy ran for 217 yards setting a new franchise record.

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Vince Lombardi Trophy

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Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII ring.

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“I’m ready to go in coach, just give me a chance.  I know there’s a lot riding on it, but it’s all psychological.  Just gotta stay in a positive frame of mind.” – Ace Ventura