Bob Breitbard and the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park
- Updated: May 31, 2010
Bob Breitbard died last week at the age of 91. He was a legend in the San Diego sports community. Founder of the NBA’s San Diego Rockets, and also the Gulls hockey franchise, but he was most known for his love of all sports. Mr. Breitbard founded the Breitbard Athletic Association in 1946 to honor local high school, amateur and professional athletes. The association later spawned the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which was housed at the San Diego Hall of Champions, which he opened in Balboa Park in 1961.
When I walked into his office, he handed me a bat. Actually he handed me THE bat. The actual bat that Ted Williams used to hit .406 in 1941.
Mr. Breitbard loved to sit in his office and talk sports, especially about his love for his childhood friend Ted Williams. What always impressed me, besides his knowledge, was his love and passion for sports. Other than the “bat”, he had an office full of pictures and memorabilia. He didn’t collect these items as an “investment”, as many people do, he collected them because he had a true love of sports and for the athletes that played them.
While creating my art (www.baseballcardart.com) I’m constantly coming across people who ask me if what I do with my cards hurts their value. I guess if you collect cards as an “investment” then what I do with them might make you cringe a little (although I haven’t actually seen anyone do that) but if you collect cards, or just love the sport of baseball and everything that goes with it, you’ll appreciate the final results.
I was very happy to know Mr. B. and was honored that he liked my baseball card pictures enough to want some of them to hang in his museum. We sat together and talked about the Padres pieces (he was friends with Tony Gwynn, too) and he loved talking about the Red Sox jersey that I gave him. His knowledge of players impressed me a lot.
The next time you’re in San Diego, try to stop at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park, where you can see the very first picture I created (the Tony Gwynn piece) as well as an amazing collection of sports memorabilia, from a man who truly loved sports on every level.
No news on what is going to happen to Ted Williams’ bat, but I know the man that would hand it to you when you walked into his office will be missed…