I have been collecting game used stuff long before I joined the Army back in 1987. For the post part, we have always lived in Government Quarters on post. As with most things military related, there are rules and policies designed to support the larger purpose. Quarters are assigned by family size; Married with one kid gets you a two bedroom; two-three kids gets you a three bedroom. You get the picture. They have not figured out that there needs to be a Hobby Room in this whole mix. In most cases I have been able to squeeze out some space in some part of the house to put up a “little stuff”. When we moved back to DC in July of 2001 we bought our first house. Michelle and the kids where thinking something close the school…I was thinking baseball room.

The house we purchased was a three bedroom, no family room or garage and yep, about 1000 meters walking distance from Hylton High School. I was never good at math, but this seems to be well outside of the I don’t need to drive to high school range…That’s a battle I lost, so I will focus on the one I won.

I pointed out to Michelle that since we lived so close to the school, we should want our house to be the place where the kids and their friends spent their free time. This way we would know what they were doing and who they were hanging out with. Michelle could not agree more and wanted me to work up a plan to add a Family Room. Sun Tsu would have been proud as I had led my enemies right where I wanted them to go. I worked out a design to extend the back of the house in a 20 x 22 fashion with 17 foot ceilings and double sided fire-place. While they saw room for a couple of couches, pool table and big screen TV, I saw the wall space I had been dreaming about for years.

The floor plan was simple on with large windows on three sides. This of course did not bother me because I had given some thought to how the sunlight would hit the room at various parts of the day. If are considering displaying jerseys, this needs to be taken into account because of the fading effect the sunlight can have on the fabric. Once the room was complete from a structural standpoint, I spent a great deal of time seeing just how the sun moved across the room. I felt like an ancient scientist trying to master the mysteries of the natural world. What looked liked would work best was a combination small shelves and system of hanging the shirts right on the walls. Ease of access to my jerseys was a primary concern since I also consider them as references so I opted for simple brass finished coat hooks and wooden hangers for the majority of the pieces.

I wanted to add some depth to my displays so I looked to pick up some mannequins. If you’ve ever priced them, you know they are not cheap. I spent a few months going through malls and clothing stores until I found one that was going out of business. I was able to pick up eight for $20.00 each. I would have snagged a few more, but I thought I would be pressing my luck if I had asked my wife to wait at the mall while I made trips back and forth. Turned out that eight was just about what I needed. I placed these in sections of two on each of the sidewalls, high enough to catch your eye when you walk into the room, but mostly to keep them out of direct sunlight. Since I have more jerseys than I could possibly put up on the wall without getting a cluttered look, I wanted to find some form of storage container that was both large enough for what I needed and would “look cool” as well. I found something that fit both of those criteria and at the same time is very functional as well…a vintage metal Coke cooler. When we have had folks over, I just move the flannels out and slip the cold ones in.

Next I had to give some thought to what I wanted to add to set off the jerseys. I opted for some very simple and affordable items such as older baseball equipment, pennants, pictures and a sampling of the marvelous reproduction tin advertising pieces. In addition, I decided to start my own small “trophy shelf” as a compliment to the area above the fireplace that was reserved for some of my favorite players. The “trophies” are Starting Lineup Figures of Hall of Famers that I have actually looked at jerseys of. Just broke Walter Johnson out of his plastic thanks to Dave Kohler and SCP Auctions.

The most recent addition involved finding some way to house some of the vintage reproduction football helmets I picked up as I was writing my Super Bowl article. What worked out well was old dresser/book shelf combination daughter Mary wanted out of her room…being to good daddy, I was only too eager to do what I could to help out. Hardback books make for nice visuals to compliment the helmets.

You also may want to consider other items in your collection and the utility they have as displays as well. I have section of four original Crosley Field seats (they are orange as they should be and the not the ones that have been re-painted red) that I use to display knits. This fits what I wanted to do; show them off and still allow me ease of access to them.

Regardless of what you collect and how you plan to “show it off,” you may want to actually consider the word DISPLAY in this manner:

D: Decided what you want to do or what visual you hope to achieve ahead of time. In short, have a plan.
I: Invest some time and money in mannequins, racks, showcases etc. I say time, as many folks are quite capable of building their own racks and displays.
S: Storage. Unless you are lucky enough to have enough space to show off everything, think about a storage system that protects the items and makes it easy to change out displays over time.
P: Purpose. Of course you want to show it off, but is the purpose to have access to the items or keep others from gaining access to them. My kids are grown so I don’t have to worry about chocolate covered fingers and juice boxes. Additionally, what do you want folks who come over to be able to do or experience.
L: Lighting. Spend some time to actually see how the room or area is lit. Be very conscious of how the sunlight comes into the room. Remember this varies based on time of day and time of year. The opposite is also true as you might want to add lighting as well.
A: Ask what other people have done who collect similar items. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. In addition, being willing to show your collection to others to help them along the way.
Y: Yourself. You will be the person spending the most time with this stuff. The displays should reflect not only a means to house and showcase items, but should also reflect you feeling and interest in them.

For me, what I collect has always been a function of what I am studying. I can see that over time, I will begin to add jerseys from football, basketball and hockey. I have already thought this through and the way I have my room set up, I could very easily divided the room up into four separate sports areas. Longer term, after both of the kids are through college, the pool table is going and the center area will be reserved for a nice square of glass display cases…The tough part is getting my wife to suggest it first.