Results tagged ‘ Bullpen Theater ’

SABR Day in Cooperstown

By Jim Gates

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) celebrated its annual National SABR Day on Saturday, Jan. 28, with local chapters holding meetings throughout North America. The Baseball Hall of Fame recognized the work of this organization by hosting a meeting of the Cliff Kachline Chapter in the Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater.

Chapter president Jeff Katz opened the meeting with some general business items, including a discussion of how to promote the summer meeting which occurs every year on the Sunday evening of Induction Weekend. The chapter will try to set up a tent to hand out information that weekend. The meeting is open to all, and interested parties should drop by the tent to learn more. Research presentations were then delivered by chapter members.

The presentations included one from Professor Jon Arakaki of the State University of New York-Oneonta, who has been conducting research on the appearance of baseball on the covers of Sports Illustrated from 1954 to date. He has examined 3,299 covers for which 605 or 18.3 percent are baseball related, only five of which do not concern the major leagues. Of all the baseball covers, appearances were broken down by person, team, race and gender. The most revealing numbers relate to the breakdown by race. 

During the 1950s, 88% of Sports Illustrated covers were related to Caucasians, 9% to African-Americans, and 3% to Hispanics. By the 1990s these figures had changed to 55% for Caucasians, 28% for African-American, and 16% for Hispanics. This data served to support Arakaki’s general conclusions that these magazine covers mirror our culture and represent what is a hot topic, and that they also serve to suggest who wields cultural influence at any time.

Anyone seeking additional information on the Society of American Baseball Research can check out their web site, www.sabr.org, and anyone interested in becoming involved in baseball research should consider becoming a member.  The next meeting of the Cliff Kachline Chapter will be Sunday evening, July 22nd.

Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Canada’s moment in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

Jerry Howarth is a Toronto institution, having been a member of the Blue Jays radio team for three decades. During that time, his press box seat enabled him to witness firsthand the accomplishments of two of this year’s inductees – general manager Pat Gillick and second baseman Robert Alomar – as they enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I came to the Blue Jays in 1982, my first full season, and I met Pat and we had a lot in common,” said Howarth, an invited guest of Gillick’s to this year’s Induction Weekend, after attending, appropriately enough, a presentation by author Curt Smith on his new book, A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, that was held before a full house inside the Bullpen Theater on Friday afternoon. “We’re both from California, we both love baseball, and he was very good to me as I started to enjoy Blue Jays broadcasts. He was encouraging.

“But I could tell that he was someone special, too, who listened, communicated well, and had a bevy of scouts that were so loyal to him. Then I began to see the Blue Jays grow. I saw his patience and steadfastness. And sure enough he took that team – orchestrated it from the very beginning – and won those two World Series in 1992 and ’93.”

As for Alomar, Howarth says he and Willie Mays are the two best players he’s seen in his life.

“I grew up in San Francisco and I watched Willie Mays every day. We all wanted to be like Willie,” Howarth said. “And then we acquired Roberto in 1991, and he was with the Blue Jays through 1995. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen with Willie. By putting those two together I’m talking about all the aspects of the game – the proverbial five-tool player. But more than that, he had instincts, he could beat you in a game with a home run, a bunt, a stolen base, a fielding play, it didn’t matter. A wonderful passion and desire to make himself ever better.

“And Roberto stood out with the Blue Jays. They would not have won those World Series without him, but having said that, Pat together great teams. But Roberto stood out. And there’s no substitute for defense and Roberto provided the best defense that I’ve ever seen.”

Having recently spent time with both Gillick and Alomar, can Howarth predict the emotional state of the pair as they stand before thousands on Sunday afternoon?

“Pat will be balling like a baby up there because I’ve seen him cry at John Olerud getting a base hit. I can’t wait to hear his speech. I’m sure there will be a lot of Kleenex up there,” Howarth said with a laugh. “And Roberto, too. Roberto is from a baseball family and I think he appreciates his career and what he’s done.

“And remember, too, both of them, especially Roberto, they’re doing this for a country, Canada, and they feel that. They know the presence that they have in an entire nation. So that makes it very extraordinary for them.”

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Worth watching

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

A familiar face from PBS’s popular show Antiques Roadshow for 14 years made a non-televised but nonetheless enlightening appearance at the 22nd annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture this week.

Leila “Lee” Dunbar can often be seen appraising sports memorabilia on the long-running television show – she has provided more than 2,000 verbal appraisals on more than 50 segments – but Thursday afternoon in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Bullpen Theater she presented a talk titled “Stories in Hand – Baseball History Told Through its Memorabilia.” Before a full house, Dunbar talked of her life and the road she traveled to become a professional appraiser of pop culture memorabilia, including sports. Interspersed was the detective work often involved as well as stories of intriguing baseball items she has been involved with over the years.

06-04-10-Francis_Dunbar.jpg“The Cooperstown Symposium is great because it gives a lot of different viewpoints, a lot of different nuances of history, a lot of stories that you don’t get to hear in the mainstream,” Dunbar said after her presentation. “One of the things about baseball is that no matter how much you know, there’s a lot more that you don’t know. And I’ve learned so much just in a day. It’s been just fantastic, and you meet a great group of people.

“People with different viewpoints is fantastic because in my world, normally, I’m either meeting people who have items, so they are what I would call ‘civilians,’ or I know other appraisers, and we discuss things from a slightly different point of view,” she added. “So the people that I meet here are not looking at this as a business, they’re looking at it as a purely historical exercise of deepening knowledge and understanding and I appreciate that, I appreciate that passion.”

Besides her work on TV, Dunbar’s company, Leila Dunbar LLC, provides all types of written appraisals for insurance, donation, estate tax, divorce, etc. Prior to opening her own business in July 2008, she served as senior vice president and director of Sotheby’s Collectibles department.

“One of the great things about the Symposium is that it has scholars, it has journalists, it has curators, and it has collectors. Me as an appraiser and having been in the business of actually buying and selling memorabilia, auctioning memorabilia, I look at objects in a variety of ways,” Dunbar said. “One, I look at is what’s the price, what’s the value? Be it a replacement value, be it value for estate tax or donation. So I have to think in that regard. But the only way you can get to that number is to do many of the same things that the others do, which is to do your research and then be able to think quantitatively about that research.”

According to Dunbar, she had very little choice when it came to her affection for the national pastime. While admitting to loving all sports, baseball’s her favorite because it’s what she grew up while being exposed to the most intense rivalry in the game.

“I was very lucky. I grew up with a love a baseball on both sides of my family,” she said. “My grandfather is an Episcopalian minister in New York who had tickets to Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium and idolized all the Yankees. And my mother, a big baseball fan, was actually a member of the knothole gang for the Boston Braves, and to this day I have all these aunts in their 70s, 80s and 90s who all watch, curse or cheer on the Red Sox depending on how well they’re doing.”

As for the institution that was hosting the Symposium, Dunbar had only high praise.

“I think the Baseball Hall of Fame is the ultimate repository of baseball memorabilia, and one that’s able to continually play a role in deepening the understanding of baseball and its history.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Answer men

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

If you ever had a baseball trivia question you couldn’t solve, I know one room where you certainly could have found the answer.

Fifty-five researchers filled the Bullpen Theater on Saturday for the Society of American Baseball Research’s second annual 19th century baseball research conference held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

04-19-10-Carr_SABR.jpg“It is rare to have so many great researchers in one place – and the Hall of Fame is about the only place where they might all come together,” said Tim Wiles, director of research for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This year’s conference was named after the late Frederick Ivor-Campbell, a noted researcher on 19th century baseball, who was killed in an automobile accident last year.

“Fred was a spectacular researcher, an exceptionally giving individual, and the kindest and most thoughtful man one could imagine,” said Tom Shieber, senior curator at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The keynote speaker of this year’s event was Peter Morris, a leading baseball researcher who was recently awarded the inaugural Henry Chadwick Award by the SABR for invaluable contributions to making baseball the game that links America’s present with its past.

The author of several books, Morris’ “Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the innovations that Shaped the Game” was the only book to win both the Casey Award and the Seymour Medal as the best baseball book of the year in 2006. Morris’ keynote address was entitled: “Who Could Play?:  Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness in 19th Century Baseball.”

04-19-10-Carr_Tour.jpgFollowing the speech, John Thorn – himself the author of several baseball books and influential editor of the classic “Total Baseball” – moderated a panel discussion called “Was Base Ball Really Baseball: Where & How Does the Old Game Survive?” about the newest findings of baseball’s roots and origins with researchers David Block, Richard Hershberger, Larry McCray and David Nemec.

In the afternoon, baseball scholar Tom Altherr, frequently a presenter at the annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture - held at the Hall of Fame each year during the first week in June – gave a presentation on baseball as played among slaves in the nineteenth century.

“As a longtime baseball researcher and SABR member, I’m thrilled to be participating in SABR’s Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference,” said the Hall’s Tom Shieber.

Shieber presented artifacts from the famous World Tour of 1888-89 taken by Albert Spalding’s Chicago White Stockings.

“It was a pleasure to meet up with the top baseball researchers who have devoted so much of their time and effort to broadening our understanding of baseball’s early days.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Night at the Museum: Extra Innings

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

On Friday evening the Hall of Fame stayed open a little bit late for a group of young baseball players from Newtown, Conn. In fact, it never closed. The nine and ten-year-old ballplayers and their parents and coaches had a night to remember as they took part in the Hall’s Extra Innings Overnight program.

11-16-09-Light_Overnight.jpgArriving after the Museum had closed for the general public, the first task before each family was deciding which alcove in the Hall of Fame Gallery would serve as their sleeping quarters for the night. As a father and son Red Sox fan pairing searched out Carlton Fisk’s plaque, three Yankee fans settled for sleeping under Joe DiMaggio’s plaque once they found that they had been beaten to the “First Five Alcove” and Babe Ruth.

With the sleeping arrangements made, the group made their way upstairs to get their visit started with a special showing of The Baseball Experience in the Grandstand Theater. They then had the whole museum to themselves for the next two hours. It was difficult to tell who was more excited, the kids who had never been to the Hall of Fame or many of the parents whose last visit to Cooperstown came when they were just 10 years of age.

The group made their way through the museum, completing the Discovery Tour to claim their free pack of baseball cards. On the third floor the kids paused to take part in special activities. In Sacred Ground, they went on a cross-country virtual tour of ballparks old and new, while in the Education Gallery they learned how they put their knowledge of science to use each time they step to the plate. The evening closed out with a snack and entertainment in the Bullpen Theater. By 11:30, our guests were tired and it was time to sleep where baseball’s immortals live.

A light breakfast and one last look around the Hall of Fame Gallery and our visitors were on their way before the museum opened Saturday morning. But they didn’t stray too far, as many planned to take advantage of their free admission to visit the Museum Store and find out what the Hall looks like under the light of day.

This Friday, we welcome a group of members of the Hall of Fame for yet another after-hours experience of a lifetime. The Hall offers its Extra Innings Overnight program several times a year in March and November. You can visit our event calendar to find our upcoming dates, or call (607) 547-0312 for more information.

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A passion for the game

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

They came because of their love of baseball; they left with an enriched knowledge of the game.

More than 160 people from throughout the country converged on the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum from June 3-5 to attend the annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture. The 21st edition, with programs held in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater, Bullpen Theater and Education Gallery, featured more than 60 presenters on such wide-ranging topics as baseball in literature, baseball iconography, Babe Ruth and baseball in American dance.

6-8-09-Francis_Symposium.jpgHall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates, a co-coordinator of the event, said the total of this year’s attendees, who traveled from as far as Australia and Hawaii, surpassed the previous high watermark by approximately two dozen participants.

While most of the participants came from the world of academia, there were also two judges, a dentist, former big league first baseman Dan Ardell — who played seven games for the 1961 Los Angeles Angels — and Hugh Hewitt, who broadcast his nationally syndicated radio show from the from the Hall of Fame Library Atrium for two nights.

According to the Symposium’s other co-coordinator, Bill Simons, a history professor at the SUNY College at Oneonta who has participated in all 21 Symposium’s, this year’s was the best quality.

“We have some incredible people here from a variety of disciplines, and there’s a special dimension that you feel,” Simons said. “We have become a Symposium that welcomes new people, whether it is graduate students or women, which add a tremendous vitality. I think this is reflected in the quality of the presentations.

“We have built up a great history, and that history continues and goes forward,” he added. “This is the preeminent academic baseball conference.”

Keynote speaker Paul Dickson, who was at his first Symposium, opened the conference by talking about his work on the recently re-released Dickson Baseball Dictionary.

“It’s just been absolutely beyond my expectations,” said Dickson, who has published 55 books, including eight on baseball, and is currently working on a biography of Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck. “There’s a great sense of camaraderie here. As a non-scholar, as a straight-up writer, I go to some scholarly events, and you are always considered the outsider, but here it’s just the opposite. They don’t check your Ph.D. at the door to make sure you’re part of the club. It’s a very welcoming, wonderful environment.

“Coming in, I thought it would be a little dryer. I didn’t realize there was going to be such vitality and spirit. And I thought the panel on Curt Flood and anti-trust on Thursday was the level of an Oxford debate.”

On Friday, as his three long days were coming to an end, Gates half-jokingly said he came up with an advertising slogan Thursday night: “This is the ultimate baseball geekfest.”

The annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, co-sponsored by the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, examines the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Opening Day at the Hall of Fame

Light_90.jpgBy Stephen Light

“It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn.” Of all the quotes, monologues, and stories Ken Burns shared with us in his documentary Baseball, this one has always stuck with me.

And here we are — April. The fond expectancy of springtime. Hopes are high all across baseball. Will the Rays repeat their magical run to the World Series? Can the Phillies defend their crown?
4-1-09-Light_RedsMets.jpgWill a new-look Mets bullpen help wipe away memories of two consecutive late-season collapses? How will the Yankees rotation stand the pressure of the pinstripes? Is this the Cubs’ year?

Here in Cooperstown, spring is in the air as well. After an icy cold winter, the snow has disappeared, the ice on Otsego Lake has thawed and temperatures are reaching up into the 50s. The streets have become busier, too, as baseball fans head to the Hall in anticipation of the new season.

In the Education Department, we are preparing for a busy spring and summer, with April kicking off an exciting schedule of public programs and events. Opening Day of the baseball season will serve as an opening day of sorts for us as well. If you are in the area, stop by the Hall of Fame on Monday, April 6, as we bring visitors live coverage of the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds in the Bullpen Theater starting at 1 p.m.

In between innings, we’ll serve up some Opening Day trivia. I’ll even give our blog readers the chance to do some homework on the first question: Which president showed off his ambidextrous talent by throwing out two ceremonial first pitches on Opening Day, one left-handed and one right-handed?

Stephen Light is the manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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