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HomeWorldWinters History Museum hosts ‘Wide World of Winters’ Sports’ exhibit

Winters History Museum hosts ‘Wide World of Winters’ Sports’ exhibit

The current exhibit at the Winters Museum is the “Wide World of Winters’ Sports,” introduced by historian Tom Crisp. (Shaun Holkko/Daily Democrat)

The idea of a history museum in Winters has been around for nearly 50 years and was introduced shortly after the town’s centennial celebration.

Back in 1975, the Winters Express newspaper put together a collection of photos and facts about the town to celebrate its 100th anniversary. This led to people in Winters realizing they should start documenting and keeping records of the town’s history.

Winters Historical Society President Woody Fridae joined the Winters City Council in 1983 with a goal of discovering more of the “historic nature” of Winters. Fridae explained that the introduction of the Putah Creek Bridge in 1875 is what gave Winters an identity and the ability to sell and share its crops with surrounding cities.

“I felt like we needed to maintain the recognition of the architecture of the past,” Friday recalled. “I wanted to put together a committee and we started working with a small committee at the time. We established in the town a downtown building code, so if anyone was going to do any development downtown, they had to recognize what would be appropriate.”

In 2004, Fridae was re-elected ahead of the planned remodeling of city hall, which was built in 1910.

“We started the idea of having a museum without walls,” Fridae explained. “We didn’t have a building whatsoever. But we did have a lot of pictures. Joann Larkey had a huge collection of photos that she had researched and found for her book. We started getting these pictures printed and framed and we would share them around town. That way they’d get more exposure and people would get a better appreciation of history.”

Joann Larkey drafted up a book about the history of Winters titled, “Winters: A heritage of horticulture, a harmony of purpose,” which was released in 1991.

“We were getting more and more photos, people start donating artifacts and we really had no place to put them,” Fridae said. “Those kinds of artifacts are slipping by every day when people don’t have a place that they can donate them. It hit us that that’s why museums get made.

“You recognize the fact that things that are in your daily life today are going to be worth showing people tomorrow.”

The three-story Hotel Winters is now in the former location of the Winters Express. After selling the location, the newspaper had to find a new home. The Express found a new location at the former home of the Winters Library and was not using all of the space at its new location on Russell Street.

So the publisher, Charlie Wallace, offered about 600 square feet of the space to the Historical Society of Winters to use for a museum. According to Fridae, Wallace leases the space to the museum for free and those in charge only have to pay the utilities bills each month.

“Little by little, I think we’ve done eight exhibits so far,” Fridae estimated. “Each time we do an exhibit, we take photos and pack them up in these crates. We will be recycling them little by little.”

The museum has hosted a number of different exhibits over the years, including a lost Japanese community and the town of Monticello, which now is the home of Lake Berryessa.

“I was fascinated with the Monticello exhibit because it had an appeal that went beyond our town’s city-limits,” Fridae said. “People were intrigued by the idea that there was a town that existed that had kids going to school, people with viable, lively farms, stores and activities. Then all of a sudden, the government came in and said, ‘We’re going to take this land and you have to go elsewhere.’ They were offered some compensation, but by every account, the compensation wasn’t nearly enough to buy something like they had.”


The current exhibit at the museum is the “Wide World of Winters’ Sports,” introduced by historian Tom Crisp.

“We’re always looking for the next thing,” Crisp explained. “I’ve done a lot of research on the sports in Winters, I figured that would be a fairly straight forward one. We wouldn’t have to go out and try to gather stuff because I had a lot of the stuff to begin with.”

Crisp enjoys doing semi-pro baseball research which is what led to plenty of baseball artifacts at the exhibit.

“There’s smaller aspects that are favorites ones of mine,” Crisp said. “The fact that we have a Olympic gold medalist who was from Winters. He was in the 1928 Olympics as a rower. In 1906, the general manager of the town’s baseball team was an interesting character. He had a tendency of writing bad checks and ended up in Folsom Prison and San Quentin Prison. That’s how we have a photo of him is through the penal system.”

Crisp said his favorite part of the exhibit is about Frank Demaree, who was a two-time MLB All-Star. Demaree played for five franchises over his 12 year career including the Chicago Cubs, New York (San Francisco) Giants, Boston (Atlanta) Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns (Baltimore Orioles).

“He ended up with a .299 batting average,” Crisp said. “One more hit or one less at bat and it would’ve rounded off to .300. He played in the World Series. When Babe Ruth called his shot in 1932, he wasn’t in that game but he was on the bench for the Cubs. He might’ve been one of the guys on the Cubs bench who was razzing Babe Ruth all the time.”

Crisp has a message for Yolo County residents who have not been to the museum yet.

“You’ve got Woodland, Davis, Clarksburg, West Sacramento, that all have rich sports histories,” Crisp explained. “So, maybe coming to see this might give them the idea, ‘We can do something like this as well!’”

Also featured at the exhibit is the origin of how Winters got its name, which you can find out more about by visiting the museum.

“Our exhibit also has a permanent section on the history of Winters,” Crisp said. “A lot of people don’t know about the town of Buckeye that existed before the town of Winters.”

The Winters Museum operates fully on donations, including monetary and time. The museum is located at 13 Russell St. and is open Thursday through Sunday from 1-5 p.m. free of charge.



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