john hamilton sports museum newport beach

 

Newport Sports Museum in Newport Beach, California

 

 

Newport Beach--John Hamilton shown with Presidential Golf Exhibit, has amassed a collection of significant sports memorabilia to place Newport Sports Museum among the the top in the world for diverse representation of America's favorite sports. Top photo shows Cale Thomson admiring the signed footballs of Heisman trophy recipients.

 

There are some big shoes to fill at the Newport Sports Museum in Newport Beach, California. At size 22, Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal's shoes can't be beat, though some may beg to differ as they gaze at the basketball shoes of stars Karl Malone of Utah Jazz, Bill Walton of Portland Trailblazers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of Los Angeles Lakers and Julius "Dr. J." Erving, world famous basketball Hall of Fame honoree. Just a drop in the basket of treasures that fill a museum (which is hard to find,) you'll score big, once you venture in.  "Wow-ing" school kids, sports fans and even shopping moms who pass by on their way to Fashion Island a block up the hill on Newport Center Drive, the 14-year-old institution is recognized by an elite crowd of athletes who donate sports items, and is considered one of the finest privately-funded collections in the United States and world!

 

barry bonds shirtNewport Sports Museum has a larger collection of unique and rare sports items in one location than any place Cale Thomson can recall. The ball game enthusiast who works there can't get enough of the exciting memorabilia that titillates even non-sports visitors. Forced to choose, his top three exhibits are: 1) the baseballs in the entry lobby  autographed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio, every World Series Championship team since 1940, every Cy Young Award Winner, the 300 Win, 3,000 Hits, 500 Home Runs and Perfect Game clubs; 2) Heisman trophy autographed  footballs of recipients from 1935 to the present, plus Super Bowl Champions; and 3) baseball uniforms worn by  Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.

 

Located in a building that bares the name, Hamilton Company, the museum signage is difficult to see. We drove by twice and finally found the place after successfully searching out and making contact with nearby Newport Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau that's equally tucked away in an office park. Once someone explained that you need to look up and see the sign hidden between tree limbs, or know that Hamilton Company building is the spot, it all makes sense. John Hamilton of Hamilton Company founded the museum as well as provide the large exhibit space that soon will have more visible signage, according to Director Amy Facone. 

 

If getting there is half the battle, then forget the Scavenger Hunt list you can pick up once inside. You'll find plenty to keep you engaged in this fantasy world that treats guests (for free) to some of the coolest sports memorabilia and collectors items on the planet.

 

Filled with an incredible variety of balls, clothes, shoes, tickets, towels and accessories from famous athletes, you may want to begin your tour on the bottom floor where guests can sit on actual stadium seats retrieved from sports stadiums around the U.S. In this lecture hall, an exhibit pays homage to "The Negro Baseball Leagues". Black & white photos of the founding teams and narratives on a story board document the early years of baseball.

 

On the main level of the museum, exhibit rooms are arranged by sports categories.  Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, surfing & skateboarding are prominently featured, as well as tennis, Olympic Games, soccer, boxing and other sports such as volleyball and swimming.

 

"I really like the golf section," said museum owner, John Hamilton, a handsome man who proudly sports a smile and discusses the mission of the museum. Standing in front of the the golf collection, five presidents' golf bags are on display: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. The most flamboyant of these is a bright red, leather bag with "General Ike" engraved in white letters.

 

A sizeable portion of his personal collection helped launch the museum, and although Hamilton has been gathering sports memorabilia since he was 12, he couldn't have put the museum together on his own, he said. Singularly-focused in his goal to inspire youth and keep them on track, he credits the museum's success to sponsors and their donations. Pointing to many adults who shared his dream, "If a kid can stay out of trouble, can keep from doing the wrong things and be inspired by the successes of our American icons, our museum has fulfilled its true mission," he said.

 

Several thousand children annually attend the museum on field trips where they learn about a variety of sports, often shown in displays that follow the history of say, the golf ball, or the football helmet. Once you visit the Newport Sports Museum and see the massive collection, it becomes clear that biggest shoes to fill may not be Shaq's but John Hamilton's. This man who followed his very own dream and built an incredible sports museum in Newport Beach, has created something of timeless value to inspire.

 

Where: Newport Sports Museum, 100 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA

Tel: (949) 721-9333 / Web: www.newportsportsmuseum.org

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (subject to change, call first)

Admission: Free; donations, memberships, sponsorships invited

 

Available for meeting space and special events, call (949) 721-9333 or email:  [email protected].

 

 

 

 


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