New Baseball Exhibit at African American Cultural Center in Camden

News  |  Published June 3, 2024

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A traveling exhibit from the South Carolina State Museum has made its way to Camden. Featuring 40 photographs exploring the story of the black baseball team from Rembert, and their fans, this exhibit is on display through September at the African American Cultural Center, located at 517 York Street.

Until Jackie Robinson and Camden’s Larry Doby broke the color barrier in 1947, major league baseball was the strictly for white players and fans. Segregated and separated, black players were forced to form leagues of their own. Based on the 1998 book The 521 All-Stars: A Championship Story of Baseball and Community, by Frye Gaillard with photographs by Byron Baldwin, this exhibit displays the 521 All-Stars, which formed in the 1920s, and the community that surrounded and supported them. It showcases both the camaraderie of the game – teams made up of brothers, fathers and sons, along with the harsh realities of the conditions they played in – bits of scrap metal collected to create base lines, rotten wood bleachers, pine tree branches for brooms.

“This exhibition encapsulates not just the story of the 521 All-Stars, but of comradery and community, of stories and memories that bring people together I think that is powerfully beautiful,” says Timia Thompson, Collections Outreach Manager.

Named for Hwy 521, which runs past their baseball field, the 521 All-Stars played for the love of the game. In 1996, author Frye Gaillard was driving north on Route 521 when he discovered a homemade ballpark and stopped to take pictures of the players. He and photographer Byron Baldwin spent two more seasons documenting the baseball team.

“I think this exhibit is important because it shows how a game like baseball brings people together,” says South Carolina State Museum’s Curator of History, Fritz Hamer who organized the traveling exhibit.

Byron Baldwin donated his photographs for this traveling exhibit. It will be on display through September at the African American Cultural Center, 517 York Street in downtown Camden. The Center is currently open on Saturdays, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.