Results tagged ‘ U.S. Air Force ’

Short-snorter and Hank Greenberg

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

Have you ever heard the term “short-snorter?”

4-16-09-Gates_SnorterBack.jpgWell, up until several months ago, neither had I. Apparently, there is a tradition that dates back to the original Army Air Corps wherein it is important for an officer to carry around a piece of currency which has been signed by one’s colleagues. If you are caught without one at the officer’s club, you have to buy everyone a round of drinks. If you have yours when challenged, the challenger must pay for your next drink.

With this cultural-background note in hand, I can report that the Hall of Fame recently acquired its first short-snorter, and one signed by a Hall of Famer at that. This artifact is a 10-shilling note from British West Africa and is signed on the back by Capt. Hank Greenberg. It was donated to the Hall by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Edward Smith, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a B-24 bomber with Greenberg during World War II and asked him to sign the note during a stopover in West Africa. Smith reports that this flight occurred in February of 1944, and he kept the bank note all these years before donating it to the Hall of Fame in 2009.

Although it is always fun to handle the well-known artifacts from baseball history, I think many of us take just as much pleasure in handling the lesser-known items, ones that show the game and its relationship to our culture from a previously unknown angle. Knowing about Greenberg was the easiest part of the research on this donation, but I had the opportunity to learn about British West Africa (now Nigeria), colonial bank notes, U.S. military air routes and, most importantly, the all-important definition of a short-snorter! Who says research is boring?

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

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An Unforgettable Birthday at the Museum

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Donald Bentzel had no idea what to expect when the limo arrived at his home Thursday morning. All he knew was that it was his 60th birthday, and the boys had planned a trip.

“I had no idea. I thought we were on our way to an old-folks home to dump me off,” Bentzel said, laughing.

4-2-09-Carr_Bentzels.jpgInstead, Troy, Tim and Brian had planned him a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Donald’s wife, Roxanne, began to drop hints about one hour into the trip from Ephrata, Pa., and four hours later, they arrived in Cooperstown.

“How many years have we waited to come here?” Roxanne asked her husband.

“I can’t believe I’m here,” Bentzel said.

The entire family is either active in or retired from the U.S. Army and Air Force. Tim was able to take leave and join his parents on the trip, but Troy and Brian are stationed in Alabama and Georgia and were unable to make the trip.

Bentzel coached Midget League baseball for nine years in the ’80s, and Roxanne describes him as a true sports fanatic.

“I have always wanted to come,” said Bentzel, proudly wearing his Phillies shirt.

And he can’t wait to see the Autumn Glory exhibit featuring the Phillies’ World Series artifacts. He loved every minute of the championship run last October, and he and the boys ran up their cell-phone bills calling back and forth.

Donald had expected Cooperstown to just be a big tourist attraction. But once he got here, he realized it is much more than that.

“It’s baseball. It takes me back to the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s when baseball was every kid’s fantasy. It’s the atmosphere. I can hear the called third-strike, the sound of the bat hitting a ball, and Cy Young is walking beside me, and I’m telling him how to hold his fastball.”

With the Hall of Famers as guests, this will be a birthday party that Bentzel and his family won’t soon forget.

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

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