The Sporting Life of Union County Exhibit will open with two events this week at the Union County Heritage Museum. Exhibit donors and athletes will gather on Thursday, September 28, from 6 – 8 p.m., at the museum to cut the ribbon. The opening of the exhibit for the general public will be Saturday, September 30, 10 – 12 as Eli Whiteside, John Stroud, Marcus Green and other athletes will be on hand to sign trading cards and talk with visitors.
“This community has had some extremely excellent athletes and coaches. Professional league players in football, baseball, tennis and basketball, as well as wonderful collegiate and high school players who have made our community proud,” said Jill Smith, museum director. “We have discovered many state championship teams from Union County. There are approximately 5,000 names in our digital, searchable archive.”
John Stroud, Johnny Stroud, Eli Whiteside, Glen Howe, Bob Boyd, Armintie Price Herrington, Marcus Green, and John Wayne West are some of the familiar names in the county’s sports history. There are so many others who have played hard to create community pride in the sports history of Union County. More great local athletes are the top players in tennis, softball, golf, track and soccer. “Hometown sports are more than just games. They are taken seriously. They shape our people, our communities and our country. They unite us and celebrate us,” said Jill Smith, Museum Director.
“This has been a big project for the museum to undertake. COVID interrupted us, but there are a lot of people who helped make this possible. BNA Bank is the Premier Sponsor for the exhibit, and the community has been generous with donations to help pay for this exhibit which has cost more than $150,000. We are very grateful for the many who have contributed to the project,” Smith said. It is still possible to donate to the exhibit and to honor a player or make a donation in memory of someone, Smith said.
Hunters and fishermen and dog trainers, boxers, champion arm wrestlers and more are part of this Union County tribute to the sporting life. Gordon Simmons and Clyde Morton are two of the great dog trainers from this county. One of the first game wardens in the state was Connie Davis. He is credited with helping reestablish turkey and deer populations in our state.
“We will continue to add individuals and teams to the searchable database as they are nominated or as we discover them. We plan to update this archive a few times annually. So, it is still possible for someone to make a nomination and bring us the photos and data.”
Design 500, an exhibit design firm located in Memphis, worked with the museum to make this happen. Mind Over Data is the designer of the searchable database and GoodShow, Inc. is the fabricator and installer. The front hall gallery of the museum will be filled with objects, photos and stories of great athletes and great moments from the sports life of Union County.
Earlier in the process, the museum asked the public for nominations of athletes to be included in this exhibit. Staff members also worked hard to find the teams and individuals who have played in Union County. The oral history portion of the project started about 2 years ago as players , teams and coaches were interviewed by museum staff. Those interviews can be accessed by going to the YouTube Channel of the Union County Heritage Museum and searching the Sports Play List. If you are an athlete or coach and would like to be included, let the museum staff know. The museum is located at 114 Cleveland Street, New Albany. For more information call 662-538-0014.
Jill Smith, Director
Union County Heritage Museum
114 Cleveland Street
New Albany, MS 38652