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Blog: Feb. 6, 2013

 

The University of Nebraska Press has just announced that U.N.P's author, Rob Fitts, has won the Seymour Award for the book, Banzai Babe Ruth, published last year. He will receive the award at a banquet that follows the NINE baseball conference in Tempe, Ariz., on March 16.

This announcement omits to reveal the full name of the award. More importantly, it omits to say who will present the award to Rob.

The full name of the award is the Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal. It's the most prestigious award presented by the Society of American Baseball Research, and it is given annually to the best book of baseball history or biography published during the previous year.

The award is named after my late husband and me because we were the members of the writing team that opened baseball to scholars. We were the first to view and write baseball history from the standpoint of professional historians. Before Harold Seymour, only sports writers had tried to write baseball history, and they were untrained in research and the historical viewpoint.

Harold Seymour got the idea of treating baseball like any other historical subject when he was preparing his doctoral dissertation for Cornell University. When I married him in 1949 we had been working together on this subject for about a year. After the dissertation was complete and the degree awarded, Oxford University Press issued Seymour a contract to write a book on early baseball history. Oxford had no idea that that two of us were doing this work together, even after a second and a third book were published, for Seymour never told his editor, Sheldon Meyer, that he was not working alone. I believe Seymour thought that since the original idea was his, that his name alone should be on the title pages of the books we wrote together.

In 2004 McFarland published my autobiography, A Woman's Work, revealing to all his fans that Seymour and I produced those first historical works on baseball history as a writing team. It took 50 years after the first book in the Oxford trilogy was published for Oxford to recognize formally that I was Seymour's co-author and to put my name on the title pages of those books, where it belonged.

Since Seymour's passing, I have written other baseball books, including eBooks for McFarland and for Thinker Media, along with articles and book reviews for baseball journals and for online review sites like The New York Journal of Books. I've even written a baseball historical novel, Drawing Card. My work has been recognized with awards, and I'm listed in Who's Who for Women, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World.

So when Rob Fitts comes to the podium to receive the Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal in Arizona on March 16, I'm the one who will hand him the Medal and explain to the audience why he deserves it. I don't know which of us will be more gratified.

 
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