Bird Watching – Tony Hawk In Flight

Every day it seems that skateboarders see a new image of themselves in the mainstream media. So it might not seem too strange to hear that on Friday, November 10, 2000 Tony Hawk showed up in person to help open a massive museum exhibit at The San Diego Hall of Champions, in Balboa Park which documents his career as a professional skateboarder.

It was Veteran’s Day so kids were out of school and it seemed like they were at the museum to get a Tony Hawk autograph. The place was mobbed. The line snaked its way throughout the 70,000 square foot building. One autograph seeker was prepared to stand in line for three hours and others didn’t care how long it took. Tony was overwhelmed by the turn out. “It’s awesome,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many people at an event like this.”

The museum’s founder, Bob Breitbard, quickly interjected, “I’ll tell you, this is the largest crowd we’ve ever had for any athlete.”

Grant Brittain and Thom Vollenweider, a local sports photographer, are responsible for the 32 photographs in the exhibit. Tony’s entire family got involved in gathering memorabilia to be displayed. You’ll see Tony’s first ever skateboard and the board he rode when he landed the historic 900 at the X-Games on June 27th, 1999. There is a photo sequence of the 900 along with a video segment about it. “You can only try it so many times because it takes so much out of you,” Tony says in the video. “The impact of the spin and the force that you hit with when you fall is like getting in a car wreck every time you fall.”

Other notable athletes on display at the Hall of Champions are Ted Williams, Marcus Allen, and Don Larson. The Hall is the temp home of the Padres Hall of Fame and there were items on the Holiday Bowl, as well as a case on the Chargers Super Bowl season.

“Tony is the only athlete currently in the hall that has an exhibit of this magnitude,” said Todd Tobias, the museum curator. “The hall was a little slow in learning how popular skateboarding is. But we wanted to make up for that. We currently recognize 42 different sports and we’re realizing there are a lot more out there. We’re doing our best to reach out to those sports that we are not familiar with. Tony was the first step in doing that with skateboarding.”

The exhibit has something for everyone from the die-hard skate fanatic, mom and pop, to even a newly introduced minion to the sport. It runs at The San Diego Hall of Champions until Feb. 9, 2001. Admission is $4 for adult and $2 for 17 and younger. The museum is located in San Diego’s world famous Balboa Park near the Aerospace Museum. Call 619-234-2544 for more information.