During the year 2017, I’ll be appearing at several events, many of them involving my speaking. Here’s a brief overview of where I expect to be:
Jan. 13-14, 2017
On Friday and Saturday I’ll be the guest of the Boston Red Sox as they present a Women’s Fantasy Baseball Camp at Jet Blue Park, here at nearby Fort Myers, Florida. The Camp, in which women are coached by male professionals and then perform in a series of games, runs all week, but I decided to attend only the final two days. The Camp culminates in a tournament and ends with a banquet.
I’ll be housed with the players at Holiday Inn Town Center, which is near the ballpark. My contact at the Camp is Perry Barber, the well-known (woman) umpire.
The Red Sox held one of these camps for women last year, but I couldn’t get to it. I’m glad to be able to make this one. The Yankees are having one in Tampa at the same time as the Red Sox hold theirs in Fort Myers.
I’m looking forward to watching these skillful, competitive women display their abilities and add to them.
March 1-4, 2017
Every year the NINE Conference, held in Phoenix in the early Spring, ends its deliberations with the banquet that features awarding the Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal, presented annually by SABR for the best book of baseball history or biography published in the previous year. I am asked to present that Medal to the winning author in a brief speech explaining why the book won the competition. For more information on the Seymour Medal and how the annual winner is determined, see the SABR web site. I can’t tell you yet who the winner is.
The NINE Conference is always full of fascinating presentations by baseball’s most well-known and excellent researchers, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend and speak there.
April 21-22, 2017
SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee is one of its most active, under the ebullient Peter Mancuso. The Committee, named for the late Frederick Ivor-Campbell, is affectionately termed “The Fred.”
In 2010, when Peter asked me to present the keynote address at this conference, I spoke about the importance not of the professional baseball players’ contribution to American history but about the contribution of the amateurs, and I urged scholars to pay more attention to this important branch of baseball history.
In 2016 a documentary film producer, Mark Honer of Kansas, contacted me because he was working on the production of a film about the way amateur baseball contributed to early Kansas history. His topic fit in with my own interests.
The result is Mark’s lively film, “Town Teams: Bigger than Baseball,” which previewed last year. I was glad to be one of those interviewed for the film and to appear in it.
Peter Mancuso has asked Mark to present his documentary at this year’s “Fred,” which will take place in Cooperstown. I will present the film, and Mark will answer questions afterward.
DATE NOT YET SET
Morris Eckhouse, a former head of SABR, is closely connected to the Baseball Heritage Museum at the newly refurbished League Park in Cleveland, Ohio, where many great players and still more not-so-great players of the recent past enjoyed playing ball. The creation of a new League Park as a neighborhood asset in an iffy area of Cleveland has revived the neighborhood. Cleveland has thus become part of the movement among towns and cities to rebuild their old parks and recognize the value of these aging structures to their communities.
Morris informs me that another celebration will take place in Cleveland in the Spring and has invited me to take part in it.
Cleveland is not only a great destination, it’s my home town, the place where I got most of my education and where I learned about baseball. I want to contribute my stories of the past to the planned celebration of League Park. Morris has promised to avoid setting his date for the Cleveland celebration in a way that will conflict with my other commitments.
June 28-31, 2017
This year’s SABR convention, always an exciting event with about 700 people milling around or rushing here and there, also takes place in the country’s most exciting city. In looking forward to returning to New York, I am starting to forgive the SABR leaders for scheduling the event in a hotel recently refurbished by a political leader who was the center of much contention in the recent election.
When I lived in New York City, I worked in a suburb named Mount Vernon, and I passed this hotel every weekday on my way from the subway to my train at Grand Central. In those days (the 1950s and 1960s), it was the Commodore. It hasn’t moved; It’s still practically across the street from the institution I have long called My Second Home: The New York Public Library, one of the world’s great reference libraries.
I know that every time I go to the SABR Convention I will be reunited with people I have known and respected for years, but I will also meet others whose new knowledge and ideas will bowl me over. Despite the infirmities of age, I just have to be there.