Columbus Clippers historian and media relations director Joe Santry enjoyed the mid-day walk from his office in right field to Huntington Park's AEP Power Pavilion beyond the left field fence.

Columbus Clippers historian and media relations director Joe Santry enjoyed the mid-day walk from his office in right field to Huntington Park's AEP Power Pavilion beyond the left field fence.

The new park has received glowing reviews since opening in April. Santry's pride for the park was evident during the long walk to the three-story building. It's not because he designed the outfield dimensions, laid each brick or hammered each nail. Santry and a handful of collaborators helped Huntington Park become more than a home field for the Clippers with its museum honoring professional baseball in the state's capital.

"Long before we were a football town, we were an important baseball town," Santry said. "That's one thing people don't realize. When they think of Columbus, they think of the Horseshoe and that we're in the middle of a cornfield. But we're a great sports town."

Santry, 55, is not an imposing physical presence. He is slight of stature and wears glasses. Yet, when the topic of conversation turns to baseball, he commands a room in his ability to tell a story.

"When Babe Ruth used to come into town with the Yankees and play exhibition games, the players stayed at the Neil House," Santry said. "Everyone thought Ruth was a notorious ladies' man and his teammates thought at night he'd be out chasing girls.

"What he did every year he came was buy a brand new car and go to Lazarus and buy all the toys there. He'd then drive to St. Vincent's orphanage on the near east side and donate the toys and cars. The only thing he asked was that nobody ever knew this. It was between him and the kids. We didn't find out until we were told stories and shown pictures by older women who were children at that time."

At a moment's notice, Santry will tell stories of hilarious hijinks, broken hearts, heroics, heartwarming tales and sad endings. His common themes are baseball, players and Columbus.

As Huntington Park's construction was moving into its final phase, the Clippers president and general manager, Ken Schnacke, approached Santry. Two decades earlier, Schnacke asked Santry to be the Clippers' official historian.

Now, Schnacke wanted to put Santry's love of the city's baseball history on display.

"Joe, I got a job for you," Schnacke told Santry. "Let's start at this end of the bar and start with the first picture."

Inside the second floor of the pavilion is a 130-foot bar. Beginning at one end are pictures and factoids of baseball history as it relates to Columbus starting with the Buckeyes in 1886 and ending with the groundbreaking of Huntington Park.

Among those helping Santry was Grove City resident and vintage baseball collector Tracy Martin. Two years before Huntington Park was completed, Martin met with Schnacke.

"My idea I threw at Ken was to have things on display like in a museum setting," Martin said. "Joe and I worked together to bring as much of a museum-type atmosphere in the space they had available."

Huntington Park's tribute to the history does not end with the 130-foot bar. Greeting fans as they enter the south entrance of the pavilion are two glass cases. Inside the first case are memorabilia of the Clippers' current Major League affiliate, the Cleveland Indians. There is a Rocky Colavito bat, a chair from Cleveland Municipal Stadium, a replica Bob Feller glove and team photos of the 1920 and 1948 championship teams.

"I had to have a photo of Oscar Gamble's 'fro in there from my younger days," said Santry, referring to the hairstyle of the Indians' outfielder from 1973-75.

Adjacent to the Indians case begins the tribute to Columbus' long history with baseball. Pillars frame large garage doors that open to reveal the playing field for a second-story view. On those pillars are photos and informational paragraphs from each era.

"Everything turned out so great," assistant director of media relations Anthony Slosser said. "Joe pulled it together and made it work. Most fans say that's part of the stadium they like best."

History is not confined to left field. Along the concourse, numerous vitrines present fans with instructions on how to throw certain pitches or display equipment like a pair of baseball spikes from the Civil War or a 100-year-old catcher's mitt.

"I wanted to show the evolution of baseball through equipment," Martin said. "It's one thing to see a picture, but when fans can see a glove from the turn of the century to the 40s and 50s and then a modern glove, it's more authentic and they get more out of that."

"Each vitrine also has three former players," Santry said. "We wanted to honor each generation.

"I had the help of some wonderful friends. It was a work of love for me and it was a conscious effort from a lot of us who are fans, collectors or nuts. Whatever you want to call us."

In 1987, Santry became the team's official historian. His love affair with baseball began in the 60s when his father took him to his first baseball game. Born and raised in Columbus, Santry worked for the Kroger Company for 30 years before joining the Clippers full-time in 2000.

"I could remember when my dad took me to my first game in 1965," Santry said. "For some reason I could remember every little detail, but I can't figure out or remember where I parked my car at the mall.

"I always figured people are born with gifts. Mine is the innate ability to remember factoids."

Santry's technique in gathering those pieces of history is listening intently to former players.

"The secret of being a historian is not memorizing the dates, it's understanding the evolution of the game," he said. "You got to look at it from a human perspective, instead of a numbers perspective.

"You view these men as individuals and people. Once you understand that, everything falls into place."

Santry's work is far from done. On June 23, he had dinner with Martin and the other collectors who helped get Huntington Park ready for opening day. The topic focused on what they can improve for the second half of the season.

"We tried to make it so people could know what a rich history we have," Santry said. "Also, when players' families come they can see dad or grandpa from his playing days.

"Former players and their families from around the country have heard about this and they're sending grandpa's stuff or their stuff. Periodically we change things. I wouldn't say we have enough to fill another park, but we get things weekly where we say, 'This is cool.'"