Photos: Get Your Fix Of Dodgers History At The Sprawling Sports Museum of Los Angeles
On the edge of downtown, a nondescript-looking 32,000 square-foot warehouse houses what is said to be the most extensive personal collection of sports memorabilia ever amassed. The Sports Museum of Los Angeles, which is located just south of the 10 freeway on Main Street, is mammoth in scope and size.
A great many American boys who came of age in the Eisenhower-era collected baseball cards, and Gary Cypres began as one of them. Cypres grew up in the Bronx a short subway stop from Yankee Stadium, proximity that guided his love of the sport and both the New York Yankees and the then-Brooklyn Dodgers. Over the years, Cypres' fortunes grew, and so did his memorabilia collection, which he built over for more than three decades. As of last week, Cypres' collection—a sprawling, treasure-filled testament to one (very rich) man's lifelong love of the game—is once again open to the public.
The museum is dictated as much by Cypres' interests as any other guiding logic. The history of the Dodgers is front and center at the museum, with Cypres' unrivaled "Dodgers Collection" as the star attraction. The collection, which Cypres told LAist is about not just the history of the Dodgers, but also the individuals who created the great Dodger brand—both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles—features thousands of items dating from the team's birth in Brooklyn in 1890 to the current era. There are countless Dodger uniforms, including those from the 1955 Boys of Summer to the present, World Series trophies from 1970 to 2000, and even the sign hung by the demolition company that leveled Ebbets Field, the fabled Brooklyn Dodgers ballpark, in 1960, among many other things.
"So this is my little problem," Cypres said with a laugh as he showed us around the museum, calling his collection "hoarders on steroids."
"It's clearly been a journey that covers thirty years of collecting, and numerous other years of just getting all the other stuff up, framed, and figuring out how to make some logical presentation," Cypres said.
Cypres' love for the Yankees is also omnipresent, with highlights including game-worn jerseys of New York Yankees stars Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. From there, the museum delves into the entire history of baseball, looking at how bats, balls and other equipment evolved through the years. Much of Cypres' interest is historical, particularly in the context of how technological advances affected sports equipment. But his keen appreciation for the role of baseball in American life spans beyond just the technological; the museum has a multitude of exhibits that reflect baseball's broader role in popular culture, from the beautiful cigar box advertisements of yore, to ephemera related to Joe DiMaggio's love life, and a fantastic collection of baseball-related folk art.
Cypres has also built an incredible collection relating to the importance of African American ball players, anchored by a wealth of Jackie Robinson artifacts.
A wing devoted to the Los Angeles Rams is said to open in the fall, but, at least until then, the inclusion of other sports feels like a bit of an afterthought (though there are very cool old basketball uniforms and interesting pieces related to how equipment for that game evolved, as well as some truly exquisite pieces of a traveling boxing stage). Cypres' true love is baseball, and it shows through in every polished inch of his museum.
The museum originally opened, albeit briefly, in 2009, but operating expenses were too high and after a few months it closed its doors to the public, though Cypres still welcomed tour groups and special events.
The Sports Museum of Los Angeles reopened in mid-July. The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets, which are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $9 for children ages five to 12, are available at the box office at the museum, and also available for purchase in advance online. Admission is free for children under five, and active military members and veterans.
The Sports Museum of Los Angeles is located at 1900 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90007. (888) 540-8223