As Kirsten and I were meandering our way to Baltimore last week, we passed through York, Pennsylvania. A few miles outside of town we spotted the very enticing York Barbell complex, which includes the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame. This clearly merited further study, so we stopped in for a visit.
The dude sculpted in bronze out front is York Barbell founder and legendary strongman Bob Hoffman (or at least he appears to be legendary in York; I’d never heard of him before). There’s another sculpture of him inside, along with several displays devoted to his life, career, and achievements. He apparently liked softball as much as weightlifting.
The rest of the Hall was a hodgepodge of barbells, strength equipment, and old photos (I really like that one, which shows U.S. Olympian Steve Sheppard), along with some interesting displays. Here are some highlights:
• This belt (additional views here and here — sorry about the glare) was presented to strongman Warren Lincoln Travis in 1907 by the National Police Gazette, recognizing him as “The Strongest Man in the World.” Ol’ Trav was the namesake of the1500-pound Travis Dumbbell. How big is it? This big. According to the Hall’s promo literature, “When the ends were removed, the gloves could be separated and filled with water, sand, scrap metal, or leadshot, to dramatically increase its weight. Travis, who weight approximately 190 pounds, hip-lifted this gigantic hunk of iron at each of his roughly 80 shows per week for years.”
• Someone — maybe Travis? — supposedly ripped this licence plate to shreds with his bare hands.
• The best room in the Hall is devoted to competitive weightlifting, with lots of displays featuring Olympic pins, ticket stubs, medals, ribbons, photos (I couldn’t stop gawking at Paul Anderson’s freakishly huge thighs), charts, and even trading cards.
• In weightlifting, as in any other sport, everything looks better in striped socks.
• And things look even better than that with a striped jersey.
• All the photos were nice, but I was disappointed by the near-total dearth of tourney-worn uniforms. The one exception: these old boots.
All in all, a very nice roadside diversion. Free admission, too. But I’m still not interested in eating spinach.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Lots of talk about hidden symbols in logos here (with thanks to Chris Ashworth). … “The University of Michigan-Flint (basically one of the lesser satellite campuses) has started a club football team,” writes Aram Sarkisian. “Instead of using the classic Michigan look, they decided to tweak the uniforms a little bit. As a Michigan grad and lifelong fan, the helmets are making me dry-heave over here. This is why you don’t mess with the classics.” … A low-budget airline has struck up a marketing deal with the Raiders. Note that the player in the middle is clearly a lineman, and is therefore wearing the wrong number (good spot by Noel Basnight). … Speaking of wrong uni numbers, look at this old photo of Shaq (with thanks to Terence O’Donohue). … Outraged observation from Jerry Pilarz, who writes: “Here in KC, there is no rival in any sport more hated than the Denver Broncos (yes, for previous generations it was the Raiders, but now it’s the Broncos, fortified by the fact that Elway had more 4th quarter comebacks against the Chiefs than against any other team). Anyway, one of the suburbs is building a new arena tailor made for minor league hockey, capacity 5,000. The new team announced their new mascot and logo yesterday. Fail! I don’t see a bright merchandising future for this team in this market.” The bigger question, of course, is why the logo character appears to be wearing Cooperalls. … And hey, speaking of bad minor league hockey team logos, this was unveiled yesterday. Man, what a stinker (with thanks to Stan Capp). … Check out this spectacular military baseball team from 1911 (great find by Bruce Menard). … SNY has produced a new documentary about the 1969 Mets (there’s a trailer here). Unfortunately, the show’s official graphics all feature apostrophe catastrophes. … I think we’ve shown Central Michigan’s new football uni on a mannequin, but here it is on a player (with thanks to Andrew Monson). … There was a decent uni discussion on Wednesday’s PTI, and Doug Keklak has performed a public service by providing a transcript. … Always fun to see Mr. Irrelevant honored with a No. 256 jersey. … The White Sox wore 1959 throwbacks yesterday. … Those Iranian soccer players who wore green armbands in support of the political opposition movement have been banned from the team. … New home kit for Man U (with thanks to Anthony Emerson). … In other soccer news, the recently unveiled Feyernoord kit didn’t go over well with fans, so the team and Puma have decided to change the design (with thanks to Stephen Wong). … The Yomiuri Giants will wear 1936 throwbacks on July 7th-9th against the Yokohama Bay Stars (as reported by, of course, Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: “The Hanshin Tigers have been wearing a green wristband. It says ‘Let’s shou [in pictograph] time!’ It is a promotion to shorten (shou) games and use less energy for night games. They are hoping to average three hours a game for all games. Right now they are at 3:06.”