Baseball Hall of Fame enters Trust Program

Back row: Morden committee member Lane Curry, museum administrative manager Joe Wiwchar, board member Hank Lemoine, vice chair Dan Giesbrecht. Front row: board member Glennis Scott, chairman of the board Morris Mott, Morden Area Foundation executive director Lynda Lambert and MAF co-vice-chair Merley Wiebe. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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The Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame is working to secure the longtime viability of the museum by entering into the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program.

The program, initiated by the province and administered through The Winnipeg Foundation, sees the province stretch any money in an organization’s fund up to $50,000.

That means if the Baseball Hall of Fame has $50,000 in their fund by the end of the given time period (two years), they will receive an additional $25,000.

Chairman of the board Morris Mott said when the province started the Heritage Trust Program, the board knew they had to get in on it.

“One of the big selling points was that you could put money in a fund and you’re going to get a 50 per cent interest in effect,” he said. “The province will support it by every dollar you put in, they put in 50 cents. It’s pretty good.”

After the province’s contribution is complete, the fund will move to the Morden Area Foundation, where it will remain.

“You can have ongoing donations from wills or whatever it might be,” Mott said. “Build up your fund and then the interest can be used for specific projects inside what the museum does.”

Mott said the money will be very important to the museum moving forward. “The museum has ongoing expenses,” he said. “Our annual event, the dinner, has expenses. I’m hoping eventually we have enough interest that one of the expenses or two of the expenses that we have could be paid for out of the interest.”

Things like staffing costs could be taken care of by the fund once enough money has been put into it.

MAF executive director Lynda Lambert said it’s good to see organizations like the Baseball Hall of Fame take advantage of the fund.

“It’s that longevity thing,” she said. “Everybody’s fighting for the same dollar… not everybody has the money to give all the time to all of these things.”

Organizations like Morden Corn and Apple Festival and South Central Cancer Resource have funds with the Foundation as well.

“If you can get your own money and get it to grow like that, that’s awesome,” she said. “It’s just awesome to get more organizations onto this particularly when the government is putting money in.”

Mott said sometimes he is faced with the question of why Morden and the surrounding area would want a baseball museum there.

“The purpose of the museum is twofold,” he said. “One is to publicize the importance of baseball as an activity in the history of Manitoba, going back to the 1870s. I would say it’s been the most important summer sport in Manitoba for 135 years.”

Mott said the second purpose of the museum is to publicize the cream of the baseball crop. “The excellence is a certain part of what we’re trying to recognize,” he said. “That’s why there’s a museum here.”

Both Mott and Lambert pointed to the dedication of Museum Administrative Manager Joe Wiwchar in keeping the museum in such good shape.