Jump, gawk, sing — the Chicago Sports Museum is now open

Written By BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter Posted: 04/04/2014, 10:22am

And now, from the man who blew up the Bartman Ball, roped the FBI into the investigation of a missing Stanley Cup puck and X-rayed baseballs to see if a decades-old World Series was rigged: Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, brings you the Chicago Sports Museum.

To experience his P.T. Barnumesque vision, head to the seventh floor of the Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave.

Walk past a Budweiser infused bronze bust of Caray, and through the frosted glass doors.

Gawk at the stitches that once held Blackhawk Andrew Shaw’s face together during the 2013 Stanley Cup finals. Or check out Sammy Sosa’s corked bat.

Interactive exhibits allow fans to test their vertical leap next to that of Michael Jordan’s and see if their hands are up to snuff to mind net in the NHL. See how many fingers you can fit into William “Refrigerator” Perry’s Super Bowl ring. Or step into a broadcast booth and sing during a seventh inning stretch. Push the plunger to set off a mock explosion to obliterate the Bartman ball, or watch a video featuring athletes talking about their superstitions.

“I’ve traveled the country looking at everything from Cooperstown [where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located] to everything that’s out there,” DePorter said. “I wanted something that would be different . . . interactive. A lot of these museums are kind of staticky: you have a jersey or a mitt but no interactive component.”

DePorter struck licensing agreements with the Bulls, Bears, White Sox, Cubs and Blackhawks, so each team is prominently featured.

And with investors like Ryne Sandberg, Brandon Marshall, Patrick Kane, Bobby Hull, Marv Levy, Richard Dent and Harry Caray’s wife, Dutchie, the museum has a near bottomless well from which to draw memorabilia.

For example, Dutchie found an old day planner of her husband’s in a cardboard box. It’s now on display in the Seventh Inning Stretch, a restaurant adjacent to the museum. So now you know that on one day in January of 1990, Harry was scheduled to meet with politicians Richard M. Daley and Dan Rostenkowski, as well as fellow announcer Howard Cosell.

The 23,000 square-foot space used to house a California Pizza Kitchen and a Lord & Taylor clothing store. The new endeavor cost about $13 million to get off the ground.

DePorter, who runs six other restaurants and bars under the Harry Caray banner, hinted his next acquisition for the musuem may be teeth that were dislodged from Blackhawk D-Man Duncan Keith’s mouth during the Blackhawks 2010 playoff run.

Admission is free until Monday and then $6 for adults and $3 for kids. Kids under 2 get in free. Guests of the restaurant also get in free.

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