A new team is taking to the fields of Major League Baseball parks this summer, and they are out of this world.
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has partnered with Major League Baseball (MLB) to deploy 15 replica statues of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong's iconic spacesuit to ballparks across the United States. "Apollo at the Park" will exhibit the interactive, full-sized statues as part of the museum's nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's mission, the first moon landing.
"Baseball ballparks are the perfect venues for new generations to learn more about that summer night [on] July 20, 1969," said Ellen Stofan, director of the National Air and Space Museum. "They allow us to celebrate Apollo's 50th across the country."
Armstrong's Apollo 11 A7L spacesuit was recently the focus of a conservation effort funded in part by the Smithsonian's first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and will go back on display for the first time in 13 years at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC on July 16.
The suit statues heading to the ballparks, created using a 3-D scan of the suit, will be made out of a blend of rigid resin for strength and durability for outdoor display.
The first statue will be unveiled at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on June 4. The other 14 suits will appear at other ballparks soon after.
In addition to the Washington Nationals, National League teams receiving statues include the Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field), Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park), Colorado Rockies (Coors Field), Pittsburgh Pirates (PNC Park) and San Francisco Giants (Oracle Park).
Apollo at the Park will also be exhibited by American League teams, including the Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park), Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field), Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park), Houston Astros (Minute Maid Park), Minnesota Twins (Target Field), New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium), Seattle Mariners (T-Mobile Park) and Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field).
Each spacesuit statue will have an interactive component where fans can use their phone cameras to scan parts of the suit — including the Apollo 11 patch, NASA insignia, American flag and glove — to access videos and additional information about the first moon landing mission, astronauts and the 50th anniversary. Fans are also encouraged to share photos of themselves with the suit on social media using the hashtag #SnaptheSuit.
Several of the baseball clubs will be hosting events in conjunction with the Apollo at the Park program. The National Air and Space Museum and the Washington Nationals will host "Apollo Night" on July 5 with themed activities, stargazing and a limited giveaway of Apollo at the Park t-shirts. More event dates are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
As the U.S. national pastime, baseball provides exciting moments for millions of Americans every year, according to the National Air and Space Museum.
"Apollo at the Park will celebrate the energy Americans felt when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon," said Stofan.
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