By: Rich Mueller
September 19, 2016
The Cradle of Aviation Museum will be exhibiting a large portion of the internationally recognized Randy L. Kaplan Collection of autographed baseballs from world leaders and heads of state from September 27 through November 8 to coincide with the World Series and the 2016 presidential elections. The exhibit is free with admission to the museum, located in Garden City, NY.
World Leaders on the Ball! features over 180 signed baseballs from leaders, both past and present, from all over the globe, including the late South African President Nelson Mandela, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Barack Obama and former leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher. The exhibit will also include a timely collection of balls signed by 2016 presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
Kaplan, who is a governmental affairs specialist in New York, has been collecting signed baseballs from world leaders and heads of state since 1996 when then President Bill Clinton signed a baseball for him at a meeting in Washington, D.C. The story behind his no stone unturned effort to acquire baseballs for the collection was featured on Grantland.com in 2013.
“The collection has taken on a life of its own,” Kaplan said. “Almost everyone who I ask is honored to sign a baseball. It is as if every political figure secretly yearned to be a professional ballplayer, at least that is what most of them tell me.”
The collection has been exhibited at: the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa in 2015; the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas in 2014; the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California in 2014; the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2012 and at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2008.
The Cradle is home to over 75 air and spacecraft, a full dome theater and planetarium and is located on Charles Lindbergh Blvd. in East Garden City, NY, next to Nassau Community College. Operating hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am-5:00 pm.