It isn’t a sports museum. But when you enter John Howie’s SPORT Restaurant & Bar, located a few hundred yards from the Seattle Space Needle, it sure feels like one for most American sports fans. Besides a gourmet food & beverage menu that lives up to John Howie’s reputation as a leading restauranteur in the Pacific Northwest, the awe-inspiring collection of game-used memorabilia displayed onsite, on walls and in well-lit glass cases, is enough to take any sports fan’s breath away.
At a time when sports bars seem to be fighting a losing battle with giant home television screens and store-bought buffalo wings, the SPORT Restaurant & Bar is keeping its winning edge with a sports identity that is hard to replicate. Big and mid-sized televisions are everywhere here to watch sports on. Mini screens for the personal use of guests are fitted at every booth. The restaurant-cum-bar serves a mean buffalo chicken bits with a tongue-tingling 5-Alarm Diablo sauce that you’d want to wash down with a towering highball glass of their signature Bloody Mary. And of-course, there’s the treasure trove of game memorabilia curated by John Howie which makes a destination out of this sports-themed bar you’d want to come back to again and again.
Touring the property in the company of General Manager Robert Monroe, who explained the contents of each glass showcase for us, the overriding feeling was that of being transported through history onto playing fields where big games were won and sports legends were born. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the highlights in the SPORT collection you’d want to check out for yourself:
The 500 Club Display
A starring showcase filled with memorabilia here is the 500 Club display — an elite grouping of Major League Baseball players who have hit 500 or more home runs in their careers. You’ll find signed balls and pictures of stalwarts like Babe Ruth (who became the first member of the 500 Club in 1929), Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Jimmie Foxx, Raphael Palmeiro, Mike Schmidt (his baseball is for sale here as well) and Mark McGwire, to name just a few. You will also see two of the hardest-to-acquire signatures: Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx.
“The 500 Club showcase is the first thing you notice, no matter how you enter the restaurant,” says Robert Monroe. “It’s a rare collection with players both present and past, and a rare treat for baseball fans to see most of the 500 Club members acquired in a single collection.”
The Seattle Champions Displays
Celebrating Seattle’s champions from the early 1900s to the present, these displays are for local fans who take pride in the city’s very own sporting history – amateur, pro, collegiate and Olympic.
You’ll find Gil Dobie (University of Washington’s first football coach in 1907), representation of the Seattle Storm’s 2004 Championship Season, 1982 Kirkland Little League Team, 1988 Seahawk Team, 1936 UW Gold Medal 8 Man Oar Team, 1917 Seattle Metropolitans Stanley Cup Championship Team. Chip Hannauer, Fred Couples, Helene Madison, Megan Quann, Tracy Ruiz, Earl Anthony, Greg Haugen… An endlessly fascinating list of sporting legends that the city of Seattle has been proud to call its own.
There are baseballs used by Seattle Mariners’ 116-win team. A flag signed by fans that John Howie had taken for Seahawk’s Superbowl victory in 2014. A limited edition Markers Mark bottle dipped in blue-and-green wax — Seahawk’s signature colors – instead of the iconic red. (Only 4,200 bottles were created by Makers Mark to commemorate Seahawk’s Superbowl win and John Howie managed to acquire two.)
“As a Seattle sports bar, we’re love showcasing artifacts that have great nostalgic and sentimental value for local sports fans,” says Monroe. “And thanks to John Howie’s passion for sports, our collection keeps getting better every year.”
The For-Sale Items Display
At the Sport Restaurant & Bar, you don’t just get to admire an amazing collection of game-used memorabilia. You can also own a piece of it yourself. The display case with signed baseballs for sale features 30-35 balls, priced between $50 – $150, and they have many more in stock, should you choose to enquire. The most expensive in the buyable collection is Felix Hernandes’, at $ 200. Other signed baseballs include:
• Jim Thome
• Tim Linecum
• Tom Sutton
• Barry Bonds
• Jack Morris
• Orlando Cepeda
• Jeff Nelson
• Gary Sheffield
• Jeremy Reed
• Ferguson Jenkins
• Brooks Robinson
• Nick Franklin
• Mike Schmidt
• Mike Cameron
• Sean Casey
• Buck Leonard
• Dwight Evans
• Randy Winn
• Clyde King
• Steve Yeager
The list goes on…
“A few signatures have faded slightly with time, but in such cases, we adjust the price accordingly,” says Monroe. “Every ball from our baseball showcase comes with documented proof of authenticity, and we try to keep our stock as current as possible.”
Signed baseballs aren’t the only sports memorabilia that are available for sale. You can buy NFL jerseys (signed and framed), photographs, commemorative card boxes, pennants, SB pins and programs, signed footballs, shoes, plaques, novelties and so much more.
“The signed jerseys are priced between $800 – $1,100,” says Monroe. “They also come with proof of authenticity, and we do deliver upon request if the customer pays for shipping and insurance. We always request that the merchandise gets insured.”
The mix is eclectic. Proprietor John Howie likes to stock merchandise associated with Seattle players to maintain SPORT Restaurant & Bar’s unique local flavor, but there’s plenty to interest out-of-towners as well. The framed Cris Carter jersey, for example, in the Ohio State section. “We host various basketball and football alumni throughout the year,” says Monroe. “We have a few Rangers here too, like Warren Moon [who went to the University of Washington] and Hall of Famers like Ernie Banks that are very popular.”
It is interesting to know that on most occasions, guests buy memorabilia at the SPORT Restaurant & Bar as gifts for other people. “Typically, we find guests purchasing a signed baseball or a framed jersey for their dad or son or uncle who’s a die-hard fan of a particular player. They make very memorable gifts and we are always working hard to keep our inventory as broad and current as possible.”