There is a small sports museum in Collingswood, NJ that you probably haven’t heard of. That place is called the Depace Sports Museum, it was started by a local cardiologist, Nicholas L. Depace, who has a passion for collecting sports memorabilia to the tune of a $40M treasure trove of Philadelphia connected and other sports memorabilia. Depace has had a close connection to many of the local legends of sports in the Philadelphia area with his physician’s office, no one is immune from health troubles with the heart. For Dr. Depace, collection sports memorabilia has been a lifelong passion for him and something that outside of his own profession, really brings him an inner peace well after the hours of his normally demanding schedule of visiting patients and caring for sick people.
For several years one of the biggest area collections of awesome sports memorabilia has been housed in Collingswood, NJ – it still is. The Depace Museum is still open there and will be open for the foreseeable future as yesterday’s press conference at the Jetro Warehouse, in the shadow of Lincoln Financial Field, announced a much larger project using a lot of the items that Depace has collected over the years and a merging of dreams started by such notable names in Philadelphia sports like Ed Snider, Lou Scheinfeld – who founded Spectacor (before it became Comcast Spectacor) among other local sports endeavors, and has been trumpeting a museum such as this for the last 6 years, Ed Rendell – Philadelphia mayor and former 45th Pennsylvania Governor (2003-2011), former Democratic National Chairman, and passionate Philly sports supporter and fan (and lead Treasurer chairperson for The Museum of Sports), Ken Goldin, whose New Jersey company handles millions of dollars in Sports Memorabilia auctions. All were speakers yesterday at the press conference announcing this project that is being trumpeted as ‘for the fans’. It will be something that fans can help develop and build much like they did with the Harry Kalas Statue project that took place back in 2011 and was started by fans in the business name of ‘Dear Harry Inc.’ – that all paid for by generous donations from fans.
Some of the best things which includes buildings, inventions, and more that have ever been developed have started out with a dream. It’s the dream of fans or collector’s to have a lot of what they like to accumulate be it memories in the mind or tangible items like baseball glove for example. The satisfaction of collecting leads to some sort of emotional fulfillment. That is the message of The Sports Museum.
I found myself at the press conference yesterday like I was at the beginning of something that may be a part of the Philadelphia sports legacy for many decades to come, a dream that has been sharpened into a realistic vision with purpose. Many millions of dollars still have to be raised in this project to make it a reality. The Museum of Sports isn’t something that is being funded by the Super Bowl champion Eagles, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Sixers, or the Philadelphia Union. It’s going to be a place, call it a shrine of local sports treasures – a treasure trove that will feature interactive displays and a rotating schedule of events with local sports talent who now will have a venue of their own to interact with fans that are perhaps some of the best fans in the nation. Still as I sat in the cold venue that will eventually house a gleaming museum, I could only think that all of the dignitaries and media, and fans alike present at this ceremony where embarking on a grass roots movement ‘ an old school style’, just outside the stark fence around Lincoln Financial Field remained locked to our cars just across the street – as we all were parked illegally up and down the street near the future home of the museum, we were like some vagabond neighbors moving in next door to a multi-millionaire (and in the case of the Eagles, a billion dollar franchise), the tattered red carpets that led to the front steps of the warehouse and soon to be museum were from rented rugs that probably made their way there from some South Philly restaurant, after all, South Philly isn’t Hollywood. The cold blowing air inside the event reminded me of the struggle of dreams like building a project like this, I talked with a sharply dressed Asian woman who had a very nice dress on but like others in the room, she said she was very cold (she filmed the press conference and beamed it to Facebook Live), my own friend with me covering the event and Phillies Talk podcaster Mike McCabe aka “The Mayor of The Boardwalk” had just been released from the hospital with pneumonia the day before, but he and people like us were there in this chilly environment. And me, sitting there in awe not at the big names of some of the people present at the announcement: Jerry Blavat, Ed Rendell, Philly councilman Kenyatta Barnes, Dr. Nicholas Depace, but I could only sit there and stare at the projected video of legendary performances from our prior sports teams, Julius ‘Doc’ Erving sailing through the air fed by Mo Cheeks, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Brad Lidge celebrating the World Series win back in 2008, Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent with the Flyers glory days back in the 70’s, Chuck Bednarik (Eagles great and someone who played well before my time of watching the game), and even a story told my Lou Scheinfeld about his watching of Philadelphia professional baseball back in 1948 – that all held my interest and I can’t wait for this project to open!
The Sports Museum (join them on Facebook here) is a dream with purpose. Contribute to it today!
NBC Sports story on the Press Conference announcing The Sports Museum: