Ernie Harwell’s memorabilia collection is at risk

8 Comments

A sad story from the Detroit News: Ernie Harwell’s personal baseball memorabilia collection — which is reputed to be worth millions and contain stuff collectors and fans would love to see — is being mismanaged by the Detroit Public Library, to whom Harwell entrusted it:

He entrusted it to the library and dreamed that one day his legacy would become a destination. But 10 months after he died at 92 last year, library executives have laid off the primary caretaker of his collection, further limiting access to the appointment-only exhibit that saw only 500 visitors last year.

Now, historians and Harwell confidantes worry his collection may be at risk in a system plagued with accusations of mismanagement and overspending.

Stuff is sitting in boxes in the basement, uncategorized and uncontrolled. There have been thefts in the past and no way of knowing if things are being stolen now, due to the lack of organization. And even if those concerns are remedied, the fact remains that the exhibition of the memorabilia is poor and access is difficult at best for library patrons.

I have much love for the city of Detroit due to my family’s history there, but no amount of civic pride should blind us to the fact that Detroit is in no position to care for this kind of collection when the city’s very survival is a far more pressing matter.

What a shame.