Results tagged ‘ Jim Gates ’

History in Cooperstown

By Samantha Carr

Baseball history comes alive every day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but during New York State History Day, the topics grow to cover a wider range of the past.

Cooperstown has been the location of New York State History Day for more than 10 years now, and continued that tradition Friday, hosting a competition for a yearlong educational program where students from all over New York State learn an exciting way to study history and present their ideas.

“Each year the competition has a theme and this year’s is Debate and Diplomacy in History,” said John Odell, the curator of history and research for the Hall of Fame and a judge for the competition. “Then each student can choose their topic in that theme. This year’s run from Ancient Greece all the way to the Patriot Act.”

Students express what they have learned through a paper, creative and original performance, documentary, website or exhibit in either a junior division (6-8th grade) or senior division (9-12th grade). They have won at local and regional competitions before competing at the state level.

“Over 400 kids will participate today and the top students will have a chance to go on to nationals,” said Jim Gates, Librarian for the Hall of Fame and also a judge. “There are college scholarships awarded there, so for those that move on, the rewards can be quite substantial.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame is only one location for students to explore during History Day as judging is also taking place at the The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Otesaga Resort Hotel. Cooperstown Village Historian Hugh MacDougall, who spent 30 years as a diplomat in Africa and Asia with the U.S. State Department before retiring, teamed with Odell and Gates to judge papers on Friday. They received the works two weeks in advance to preview and read them before the student is interviewed.

“The interview is meant to clarify questions the judges have on the paper, rather than affect the rating or scoring,” said MacDougall. “It gives us a chance to speak with the student and find out why they chose their topic and made the choices they did.”

Students have strict rules for their research and must meet proper style, citation and source requirements.

“One of the goals of this program is to maintain the excitement about history these kids have and educationally, to learn the research process, which can be a real challenge,” said Gates. “It allows them to develop critical thinking and analysis skills.”

Not only do students get a chance to tour world-class Museums and present their work, they are encouraged to meet students from other schools, exchange ideas and gain new insight. Through this experience, students learn all of the hard work that goes into understanding a topic of history and gain context as to why it was important.

“The students are encouraged to take a topic and apply it broadly to the real world,” said Odell. “They have to make interpretations of the topic and draw conclusions about how it applies to American culture, which is very much what we do at the Hall of Fame with baseball history.”

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

Checking out the Library

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

12-17-09-Gates_BookCover.jpgOne of the great benefits about working for the National Baseball Hall of Fame is that we get to meet so many people who make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown from all over the world. I personally enjoy having the opportunity to meet a variety of librarians and archivists that pass through our doors.

Recently, we had a special visitor, Judy Graves, a Digital Projects Coordinator for the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The LOC is the world’s greatest accumulation of books, documents, and all matter of recordings and ephemera – and it was a real treat to provide Ms. Graves with a behind-the-scenes tour of our facility. (Although we are not as big as the LOC, we think our collection is really cool, and it is fun to show off to visiting library professionals.

It should come as no surprise that America’s largest library should have a significant collection of baseball related material, and over the past several years they have been working on a project to promote this. The result has been the production of a beautiful new book titled Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress which was recently published by Smithsonian Books.

12-17-09-Gates_GatesGravesStrohl.jpgThis volume contains 240 pages of pure baseball history as it is loaded with high-quality images of the game from baseball cards to posters to advertisements to rare photographs. Several of our research and curatorial staff have had the chance to peruse this book, and all the comments have been quite positive.

As part of her visit, Ms. Graves donated an author signed copy of Baseball Americana to the Hall of Fame’s library, and we were very pleased to accept this gift. It is only through such gifts that we are able to expand the scope and depth of our collection and the support we receive is greatly appreciated. This book will hold a special place in our library and I hope that some of you have the chance to enjoy it as well.

Jim Gates is the librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

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.

21st Annual Cooperstown Symposium Begins Wednesday

6-1-09-Carr_Hall.jpgCarr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Twenty-one years strong and bigger than ever before.

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, begins Wednesday morning in Cooperstown. Each year, the event brings baseball scholars from throughout the country together to examine the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives. 

6-1-09-Carr_Dickson Mug.jpg“This year we have more speakers than ever before and it will last from Wednesday morning until Friday evening,” said Jim Gates, the Hall of Fame’s librarian. “We have a wide range of subject listings, and I’m looking forward to it.”

This year’s event will feature keynote speaker Paul Dickson, author of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The UnWritten Rules of Baseball, The Joy of Keeping Score and many other baseball titles. Dickson will be speaking about his work on the historical lexicography of baseball terms and expressions.

The Symposium will feature discussions on everything from baseball and the law to monuments and memorials to music and poetry. It will conclude Friday evening with a screening of Diamond in the Dunes: Hope and Baseball in China’s Wild West, a work-in-progress documentary.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Book it

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Every time I get a tour of part of the Museum by a staff member, I learn something new.

On Tuesday, I tagged along on a visit to our library and archives for newly appointed New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries, Bernie Margolis, and learned that team nicknames were usually given by newspapers and only became official around the 1960s when teams found the need to protect them to make money off T-shirts and advertisements.

Margolis administers the New York State Research Library and the Division of Library Development. He was in Cooperstown as part of a tour across the South Central Regional Library Council’s (SCRLC) 10,000 square-mile region.

5-5-09-Carr_MargolisWife.jpgThe Librarian for the Hall of Fame, Jim Gates, explained the Hall of Fame’s library archives and how they are used. Between phone calls, emails and in-person visits, the library staff handles about 50,000 requests per year. The A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center is the public area for visitors to complete research and is open to the public free of charge during normal business hours.

Margolis has a special connection to baseball, as he came from the Boston Public Library, where he served as president.

“I left Boston for New York, just like Babe Ruth left Boston for New York,” said Margolis.

The Boston Public Library has a close connection with the Boston Red Sox, and Margolis worked with them to publish a book on baseball history – a including interviews and stories about the players. It debuted at Fenway Park and Margolis was interviewed about the opening.

“Manny (Ramirez) hit a home run in the middle of the interview, so I took credit for that,” Margolis said. “Of course he was gone just two weeks later.”

During the tour, Gates showed off some interesting articles in the archive, dispelled some baseball myths and told some stories about interesting visitors to the library.

“I am overwhelmed by the scope and quantity, thoroughness and variety of the archives as well as the capacity and knowledge of the staff,” Margolis said.

Margolis learned today what I already knew about our library staff – they are the most knowledgeable baseball people on the planet.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.


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