By Alex Rudicel ‘19
Our meeting with Mr. Erik Strohl, the Hall of Fame’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections, was very enlightening. We began by discussing the type of stuff we study in class and how we go about our discussions over such topics as PEDs or Pete Rose and many others. He then proceeded to tell us a little about himself—how he began as an intern for the HOF, much like the many other workers we have talked to—and how his job works. Personally, I was very excited about how he detailed the new exhibit on contemporary baseball that will open in November. For the first time, the HOF is going to directly discuss such topics as Performance Enhancing Drugs and Pete Rose in detail instead of essentially ignoring or barely discussing them. The exhibit will also address the relationship of baseball and 9/11 as well as the effects of technology on the game. This exhibit is potentially controversial since it has the might upset some in baseball (like Barry Bonds who is named for being associated with PEDs although he never failed a test). I wish I could go back to the museum to see this exhibit since it will be very interesting to see how the HOF presents these topics to the public, but I know I won’t be back anytime soon! Our meeting with Mr. Strohl was very insightful and overall made for a better experience at the museum.
By Andrew Tandy ‘19
Visiting the archives today was an eye opening experience that allowed me to look into the lives of sports historians, curious fans, and students like myself. I was astonished at how much care the Hall of Fame has taken to preserve these pieces of baseball history. They went to great lengths to make sure that the artifacts weren’t damaged by controlling the temperature of the room, and asking the viewers of the artifacts to wear white gloves, as well as a standard no eating or drinking policy. I was in awe at just how extensive the archives were when I noticed a man reading the sports newspapers from the years 1947-1966. In my own research on Negro League star Oscar Charleston, who was from Indianapolis, I found the sources that were pulled for me to be very helpful and full of useful information. The player file that they have for each player provides different looks at that player and stats that give you a broader sense of who the player was. I thought the experience of archival research was a little ritualistic in a sense that the whole process was like going in to see the sacred scrolls. We were the religious patrons and the archives were held to the same level of treatment as the Ten Commandments. All in all visiting the archives was a surreal experience that brings you closer to baseball enlightenment.
By Justin Woodard ‘19
The most fabled room in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the plaque room, which marks enshrinement of all the great legends of baseball history. It is the only room in Cooperstown that does its best to appear grand and all-inspiring with marble pillars, marble flooring, bronze plaques, and approximately a twenty-five foot tall ceiling. The first induction class of 1936 is located on the far wall directly across from the entrance, in a way eternally watching those who enter their hallowed halls. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson are ensuring that their room stays a pure sanctuary, where those who violated the game’s rules are not allowed a plaque and the honor of calling yourself one of the greatest. In the hall you will only find players such as Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, and Jackie Robinson who succeeded through hard-work, perseverance, and natural talent alone. Joining those great players this year were Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio, who all embody the great values of hard-work, perseverance, class, and natural talent.
In addition to the plaques of the legendary baseball players there are two sculptures of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, constructed in 1984 and 1985. These sculptures were constructed from a single piece of laminated basswood without any other materials. The detail in these two pieces of art is extraordinary as everything is recreated in the sculptures, from wrinkles in the jersey to the pupils in the eyes of both players. I was very impressed by the amount of detail and the overall dedication to excellence that is presented in the plaque room. The plaque room was a great way to demonstrate how the positive values of hard-work and dedication are represented in the many great ballplayers throughout the game’s history.
Nick Frye ’16 – In Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like, there is a chapter labeled Black Souls in White Skins? that deals with the issues of whites helping the African movements in South Africa. Biko labels these whites “the liberals”. The liberals, in the context of achieving equality for Africans in South Africa, are doing more harm than good, according to Biko. This is because the white liberals are trying to live in two separate worlds. On one hand, they are trying to acquire more rights for the African community and, on the other hand, they are trying to save face with the white population by not overstepping their bounds. Biko claims that these liberals cannot have the best of both of these worlds and says that even though they are trying to help Africans, they are still able to use their white privilege. The use of their white privilege shows that they are truly not able to understand the hardships that the African community is facing. Biko states that these white liberals should not concern themselves with helping the Africans directly with their movements, rather, Africans should lead their own movements so they can truly reach their desired goals and not assimilate into what the whites want them to. Whites should address the problems of white racism and privilege amongst the white population. In the times we live in within the United States we are still seeing racial discrimination. There are many people fighting so that this discrimination can truly end. Many whites are aiding these issues by joining campaigns and movements. It is good that they are trying to end discrimination, but the white community is still unable to understand fully what is exactly going on. They will not know the true struggles that some African Americans have to face on a daily basis and they, like the liberals that Biko talked about, can use their white privilege whenever problems arise for them. They can still do well for these movements by educating other whites, but they cannot possibly lead these movements for they will not truly understand the struggle. This is my interpretation of how Biko would see modern day Americans struggle with racial discrimination.
Ben Cramer ’17 – Throughout his life as an activist in apartheid South Africa, Steven Biko produced a substantial body of essays on the social issues that plagued his life. He wrote quite strongly about the police in South Africa and the environment of fear they created, and unfortunately those writings are still relevant today. “One frequently hears people say of someone who has just been arrested or banned – ‘there is no smoke without fire’ or if the guy was outspoken – ‘he asked for it, I am not surprised’. In a sense this is almost defying the security police; they cannot be wrong.” All too often in the last few years while police brutality has become more of a national conversation in the United States, African American men and women are consistently put on trial for their own deaths at the hands of white police officers. Biko’s writings become more and more relevant. It is agonizing to see the public readily accept that police officers are telling the truth about the events that led up to a shooting. Enough people doubt the narrative now, at least, that there is a push for body cameras on police officers, which is one advantage that we have over the 60s and 70s. Advancing technology is letting us hold everyone more accountable, and while that does nothing to bring back those who were brutalized, these advances should help to bring justice in the future, and eventually end the need to bring justice at all.
Zach Greene ’16 – In Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like, he discusses white racism and privilege while specifically attacking the white liberal. Bearing in mind this was written during the Apartheid era in South Africa, he has one point that resonated with me. Biko writes, “The problem is WHITE RACISM and it rests squarely on the laps of the white society. The sooner the liberals realize this the better for us blacks… White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society—white racism.”
I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to my own condition as a white citizen in the United States. While racism is not as prevalent in my generation as it was in prior generations, it still exists to some degree. In order for the United States to continue moving forward, the final coals of racism must be put out of a once raging fire. One hundred and fifty years have gone by since slavery was abolished and forty-seven years have gone by since the Civil Rights movement ended, yet there are still black children being shot in the streets and gross inequality in African-American incarceration rates. As Mr. Biko suggests, it is White America’s duty to make sure racism is blotted out, so real progress can be made.
Chris Biehl ’16 – In Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like, he analyzes the different problems in South Africa in terms of Apartheid and general racism. He writes about Black Consciousness and how it plays a role in South Africa’s immense racism. A passage that stuck out to me directly was his chapter about Black Campuses and their attitude toward Apartheid and racism.
The way he writes about these campuses directly parallels to the American Civil Rights Movement. Biko says that the young college students are less focused on ending segregation because it does not change the true racist attitudes of those in South Africa. He says, “These people realise now that a lot of time and strength is wasted in maintaining artificial and token nonracialism…artificial not in the sense that it is natural to segregate but rather because even those involved in it have certain prejudices that they cannot get rid of and are therefore basically dishonest to themselves,” (Biko 17).
In the American Civil Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. This made it illegal to discriminate in public, hire or fire based on race, and called for an integration of schools. On paper, this is everything a supporter of the Civil Rights Movement would want. Yet, in practice, the racial tendencies of Americans were in tact and did not magically change by the passing of this Act. This parallels with what Biko is saying about the attitudes towards desegregation on Black Campuses. Even if desegregation happened, it would not change the immoral attitudes of the individuals in South Africa.
By Jared Wolfe
Our day started with a slow walk through the downtown area of the small town of Cooperstown in the crisp autumn air. After we reached the Hall of Fame we received our illusive membership materials that included neat Identification cards and 2015 Hall of Fame yearbooks. Our first experience of the day was a neat introduction at the theatre that included a cool perspective on the mythical significance of the game and what Cooperstown means to baseball. Right after, Professor McDorman took us on a quick tour of the museum, giving his insight on where things are located in respects to our museum exhibit projects. At around eleven o’clock half of the tutorial went into the archives to do research on our Indiana Baseball essay. We made great progress as a group, working for a solid hour and half scavenging through the information the Hall of Fame library had on our players. After we walked the town at lunch and experienced more of the town of Cooperstown, we all met back at the Museum for the tour of Library with Jim Gates. Personally, I thought this was the coolest part of the day. Mr. Gates took us upstairs to the main section of the Library and presented us with some extremely neat items. They included the 1859 New York Harlem official rulebook, 1947 National League stat book featuring Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, and a Whitey Herzog spray chart for Craig Biggio. He also had an awesome story about Charlie Sheen coming to the Hall of Fame. The last part of our day consisted of a stroll to the gorgeous Lake Otsego before we ate at the Doubleday restaurant on the main strip. It was incredible experience to see the Hall of Fame and have amazing access to the archives. It is only day one and I can only imagine how awesome day two will be!
By Nick Etter
The tour of the Archives and Collection Department was interesting to say the least. Head Librarian Bill Gates was able to pull five different artifacts from the Archives to display for us. The first of the artifacts was a small handbook, called the bylaws, from one of the original baseball clubs. Mr. Gates informed us that each baseball club had its own set of rules, and when a game was declared, a rule committee had to decide on a set of rules. Originating from the “baseball club” thought, he went on to explain that each club welcomed all players because each player had to pay dues to play. As more players joined, the whole set of members would not be able to play in a single game. This led to the development of the “Muffin” team. The Muffins would play a second game, after the starters, to allow all paying members playing time. The term “muffing” a ground-ball, or “muffed it” comes from baseball’s muffin team.
The second artifact was an original check from the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox for the transaction of Babe Ruth. The check is one of four payments that the Yankees made to the Red Sox. Only two of the four checks are remaining today.
We also were privileged to see the 1947 National League, hand-kept stat book. The 6-inch-thick ledger held all he hand tallied statistics from every National League team in 1947. He also told us that if any statistic had been miscalculated, every change had to be tallied up, and reassigned to the rightful stat-holder. The example he explained was for every RBI that didn’t count for one person, in order to add it back to him, it had to be taken away from someone else. Mr. Gates also pulled the hand drawn spray charts from Craig Biggio, 2015 Hall of Fame inductee. Before the computer age, hand draw, color coded spray charts for each player were documented by managers after each game.
By Ian Ward
Today, through the Baseball and American Identity Immersion trip, I was able to use exclusive Baseball Hall of Fame Library Archival Documents. This use of documents coincides with a class project about a Indiana born baseball player, who has had an impact on the game of Baseball. The player I have chosen is Don Larsen. Larsen was a pitcher for the New York Yankees in the 1950’s. His impact on baseball was that of being the only person to ever pitch a perfect game in the World Series. As far as what I was able to research, I was able to see between 50 and 100 news articles regarding Larsen and his career, both on and off the field. Also, I was able to read through many books not only on his greatest accomplishment, but also on his career overall, and see how he came to pitch his best game. By researching Larsen, I was able to find that despite his on-field performance that October night, his overall career was not Hall of Fame worthy. Also, by analyzing the resources I found that he had several off the field issues that often over shadowed his play. Therefore, by being able to utilize the archives I found many facts that would have otherwise been unavailable for me to use in my overall project. Plus, due to the extreme organization of the Archival Documents, it was both easy and fun to research this interesting player. This is how the Immersion Trip to Cooperstown New York, and accompanying Archival Research, coincides with the project of researching an Indiana Baseball Player, and the overall course of learning about Baseball and its relationship to American Identity.
By Bryce Bridgewater
In our first visit to the Hall of Fame we encountered many fascinating pieces of baseball history. I think the most interesting and captivating part of the day was the tour and talk with head librarian Jim Gates. The baseball insight and knowledge that Mr. Gates had on the information contained in the museum was amazing, and might even be helpful to some papers for later. Whether it was the earliest baseball rulebook formed or his story of Charlie Sheen visiting Cooperstown, Gates had our total attention for the entire presentation. Easily my favorite was the Babe Ruth artifact. The card that Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee, used to sell Ruth’s rights to the Yankees was presented to us. Being a dedicated Red Sox fan, it was hard to see the piece of paper that sold arguably the best player in the history of the game to the most-hated rival. Mr. Gates also explained that Ruth was primarily used as a pitcher for the Red Sox, another blunder that makes me cringe at the departure of the Babe. Nevertheless, the history and condition of the artifact was truly fascinating and almost indescribable. This experience made me think of all the history and culture that the museum represents, which was also indescribable.
By Brad Guilinger ‘19
October 14th has been circled on our calendars for a long time. We’ve endured long, stressful nights with countless pages of reading, challenging homework and papers, and the typical days of pledgeship. All 13 of us freshmen, plus class mentor Jerel Taylor ‘16, have been very excited about this trip. After being greeted by President Hess, Dean Raters, and Dean Feller, we left the Chapel at 11:30 a.m. and headed for the airport. We arrived to the airport and got checked in. You would think after that we would go through security, find our gate, and make sure we are all situated for our flight. Oh wait, don’t forget food! Better yet, Qdoba! We had a lot of Qdoba! Once finished with our food we arrived at the security checkpoint, which I obviously wasn’t prepared for! My bag had to get checked for at least 3 different warnings. A word of advice based on what I learned the hard way: remember the limits on liquids you can bring in one bottle and other restrictions or else they will just throw it away! But from then on it was smooth sailing. We got on the 2 hour to Philadelphia. In Philly we had time for a snack of pretzels, fro yo, and, yes, some Philly cheese steaks. There is no better combination than that. The trip from Philadelphia to Albany was a very short 40 minute flight, followed by the hour and 45 minute drive to our hotel in Cooperstown. The hotel is very nicely equipped with multiple televisions to watch all the playoff baseball games in the evening. It was a long day of travel and now we are ready for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We are all thankful for this opportunity and very eager to learn and explore.