Story and photo by James Coburn, staff writer
Richard Hendricks has been an avid sports fan as long as he can remember. You might see him wearing a Brooklyn Dodger hat at the Territorial Capital Sports Museum (TCSM), located in downtown Guthrie.
“In 1950, my dad took me to see the ‘Jackie Robinson Story’. I was 9 years old, and I became a Dodger fan,” said Hendricks, executive director of the museum. “I played all three sports in high school — football, basketball, and baseball.”
Hendricks was assistant principal at Guthrie Junior High School when he invited two Hall of Fame recipients, Harlem Globe Trotter Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, and baseball’s Ferguson Jenkins, who played most of his career for the Chicago Cubs, to a Red Ribbon Week encouraging youth to be drug free. An idea grew from the gathering to create a museum to honor Oklahoma athletes and coaches. The museum opened in 1993.
“It is time for us to see if we can find somebody else who is a sports fan and familiar with Oklahoma sports, that would like to get involved with the museum and eventually take it over,” Hendricks said.
TCSM was designated by the Oklahoma State Legislature as the official sports museum for the state of Oklahoma.
“We’re in the process of trying to find a major sponsor. And if that would occur, we could afford to pay that director. But the directorships and help at the museum has been mostly on a volunteer basis,” Hendricks explained.
He would help guide the new director to learn about the museum and what it offers visitors.
“I’ll be glad to assist them anyway that I can,” he said.
John Vance Motors, Eskridge Motors, and BancFirst have been loyal sponsors of the museum.
There is a vast amount of detailed information on file. Four kiosks are placed strategically to give insightful information to visitors as well.
Hendricks’ volunteerism is from his love of Oklahoma sports and children. Three buildings are full of Oklahoma sports artifacts and memorabilia, making it the largest collection of Oklahoma sports in the state.
“All of the items here relate to athletes that were either born in Oklahoma, live in Oklahoma or went to a college or university here and went on to be professional or Olympic athletes,” Hendricks said.
Many of the former athletes he coached in Ryan, Fort Cobb, Guthrie, and Stigler have visited Hendricks at TCSM.
In 1963 he began coaching mostly Oklahoma high school basketball, and baseball teams and assisted in football. He and his wife Carolyn attended Oklahoma Baptist University and began teaching.
High school athletes come to the museum and learn that no matter where they come from, if they are determined and have God-given ability, they can be successful, Hendricks said. Visitors will first enter the basketball area of the museum. Sports legend memorabilia from Alvan Adams, Waymon Tisdale and Oklahoma City Thunder players are recognized among others. Just about any Oklahoma sport imaginable is celebrated including, wrestling, golf, and rodeo.
Rodeo cowboy star Roy Cooper’s saddle is prominently displayed at the museum.
Women athletes are celebrated including Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller.
Miller is the most decorated gymnast in history.
She has earned 7 Olympic Medals and 9 World Championship Medals. Her tally of five medals (2 Silver, 3 Bronze) at the 1992 Olympics was the most medals won by a US athlete. During her career, Shannon has won an astounding 58 International and 49 National competition medals and over half have been Gold, culminating with two Gold Medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
There is the largest collection of Phillips 66 uniforms in the state. Phillips 66 was a national basketball champion during the 1920s-40s.
The football gallery has artifacts from high school trophy winners, including a jersey of Heisman Trophy winner Billy Vessels.
“I don’t know of anyone, hall of fame or otherwise that has a Billy Vessels jersey from Oklahoma,” Hendricks said. “We even have the Native American athletes that are in the American Indian Hall of Fame that were football players — Jim Thorpe, Sam Bradford, Thomas Stidham, Sonny Sixkiller.”
Baseballs and bats form a collection of World Series memorabilia from the likes of Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Cy Young, and many Oklahomans such as Allie Reynolds, and Mickey Mantle. There is a Yankee display celebrating Bobby Mercer and one for Mickey Mantle.
Of historic significance is a photographic display of the Negro League. Joe Rogan was in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“We have one of the largest collections of Minor League artifacts and memorabilia from the Oklahoma City Indians, 89’ers, Red Hawks, Dodgers and Tulsa Drillers,” Hendricks added.
For more information about applying for the position of executive director of the Territorial Capital Sports Museum, please email Richard Hendricks at [email protected] or call 405-414-1342. For more information about the museum, visit https://www.territorialcapitalsportsmuseum.org/