When you walk up the steps of 327 Baker Avenue, you feel like you are coming home. For Carmen Harlow, that is literally it. Welcome to the Urban Sports Hall of Fame of Syracuse, the home in which Carmen grew up, and now is using to enshrine the heroes of yesteryear.
“We decided after having displays all over the city, and different things, the pods, I thought 'hey, why not bring it back to the neighborhood I grew up in and played sports in?' This is where we started a couple years ago, and bringing it here and displaying it here where our father brought us here,” said Carmen.
What began as a project 23 years ago has blossomed into a grand collection of local history. Like the original foundation of the old Archbold Stadium that opened in 1907. Or an original piece of the Carrier Dome roof from its construction in 1980. Or, how about the original seats from MacArthur Stadium, where Syracuse baseball, which began in 1937, was played?
But this hall of fame is more than just the artifacts and the pictures and people inducted on the walls. It’s a bond between a father and son. Justin Harlow, Carmen’s son, has been by his dad’s side putting this together.
“You know, every year when we do have the honorary ceremony, the emotions come out," Justin said. "It’s not often some of these people are getting recognized and honored. They’ve worked hard for many, many years. So just to see the hard work my father has gone through to put it on, to see all these people who have had such a huge impact in our community, you can’t make it up.”
And even though Justin has been by his dad’s side, Carmen is still teaching the young man a thing or two, as the learning never stops. But one thing is clear: Working with his son means a lot more to Carmen than anything else.
“Here you’ve got someone that can follow behind what I was trying to do, the people helping me throughout the years, it’s just a loss of words. It’s how it should be. You know, it might seem self-centered, but this is how it should be. To carry it on, let the children run it, let the kids run it, let the young run it and here it is. God’s gifted. It’s an emotional thing,” said Carmen.
Carmen and Justin are still renovating the three-floor home to make it available to the public, hopefully by 2021. Also, they'd like it to be available for when they plan to induct another class, something they’ve been doing since 1998.