We wrote in July about a collector of Nolan Ryan memorabilia who donated his $1 million collection to Stockton University in Galloway, N.J.
The unique collection is now on display at the university and its regional campuses.
The collection owned by collector Leo S. Ullman includes more than 15,000 items, including baseballs, bats, gloves, hats, jerseys and cards. It also includes such unique items as a signed cowboy hat, an autographed horse saddle, a blood-stained jersey and even Beanie Babies.
Ullman, a real estate investor and former owner of the Shore Mall in Egg Harbor Township, began his collection nearly 30 years ago because he was fascinated by the amount of Ryan collectibles on the market. It has been appraised at more than $1 million and is believed to be the largest Ryan collection in existence.
“I bought 12 Nolan Ryan cards for $1 each thinking I had a collection, having no idea what I was getting into,” said Ullman, 83, who lives in Sands point, N.Y. “There are just enormous quantities of items that bear his name and likeness. There are few products with even the most remote link to baseball and baseball memorabilia that did not merit his endorsement.”
Ullman decided to donate his collection to Stockton University, which is developing a class to be offered in the spring that’s tied to the collection. Stockton has created “pop-up” exhibits of the collection that are on display until Dec. 11 at five Stockton locations: the Richard E. Bjork Library in Galloway; Kramer Hall in Hammonton; Stockton University at Manahawkin; and the Noyes Arts Garage and Stockton’s campus in Atlantic City. A public reception for Ullman and the exhibit will be held on Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Arts Garage.
“We’ve had calls from all over the country about Stockton receiving the collection,” said Dan Nugent, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the Stockton University Foundation. “Our faculty and students will be making use of the items in the spring, but we wanted to get some of them on display as soon as possible to give the public access.”
“I tried to get a cross-section of memorabilia that the donor had collected that told the story of Nolan Ryan,” said Michael Cagno, the executive director of the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton. “It’s called a pop-up exhibit because it’s not long-term. But pop-ups are also tied to baseball, and the five sites are like the four bases of a baseball diamond and the pitching mound where Ryan dominated during his remarkable 27-year career.”
The largest display, Cagno said, is at the Arts Garage. The walls of the room are painted orange and blue like the Houston Astros, the team that Ryan spent nine seasons with.
The exhibit at Kramer Hall features display cases and wall art. Other items, including hats and statutes, are on display in Manahawkin and on the second floor of the John F. Scarpa Academic Center in Atlantic City. Throughout all the sites are cards detailing Ryan’s career and lesser-known facts about his life, including him soaking his fingers in pickle juice between games to help prevent blisters.
“The goal was to really tie in the different sites,” Cagno said. “Your true die-hard fan, maybe they could go to all of the sites and then also get to investigate Stockton at a different level.”