Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cooperstown Symposium

The Hall of Fame puts on many events over the course of the year, the most notable being induction weekend when the newly inducted Hall of Famers are welcomed into the Hall of Fame. For the library staff, though, the big event is the Cooperstown Symposium. This is the 22nd year that the Hall has put on the Symposium, an academic conference that brings together scholars from all over the country to present their papers on baseball and American culture.

Because the library is the entity that really conducts this, we close down during the Symposium. For myself and the other research intern, it meant we split our time working the desk (where we would do research when not helping out conference attendees (which in some cases meant doing some quick fact-checking for them)) and either attending lectures or working the door.

The lectures took place in two rooms, the Bullpen Theatre and the Education Gallery. The Education Gallery holds the most popular exhibit in the Hall which is why we had to work the door. Because there were lectures going on, we had to shut down the exhibits in the room including this one. Any idea what the most popular exhibit in the Hall of Fame is? 35,000 artifacts, what would people most want to see? Hmmmmm.....I'll save you a trip. Here is the most popular exhibit in the Hall. Amazing, huh?

Working the door was fine, though, in that you got to hear the talks being given. My favorite was one Lisa Neilson of Marist College did on the Kingston Colonials semi-pro team. I love local baseball history and she did an awesome job of telling the tale of this powerful New York semi-pro club of the 1920's. There were lectures on all aspects of baseball and culture: media, integration, women in baseball, business of baseball, baseball in literature, etc. Claire Smith of ESPN was the keynote speaker and talked of her own experiences and challenges as an African-American female sportswriter.

Another great experience of the Symposium was the Thursday night dinner. After the conference, they hold a Town Ball exhibition outside (which I did not attend). At the conclusion of that, they held a dinner for the conference attendees in the Hall itself. It's a neat experience having dinner among all the plaques. I liked that I was in front of Stan Coveleski and Ducky Joe Medwick. It's surreal enough as it is that I have to walk by all the plaques every morning to get to the library but having dinner in the Hall was beyond even that.

The dinner concluded with Director of Research Tim Wiles dressing as an old-time ballplayer and reciting Casey at the Bat and a couple other baseball pieces then leading us in the full version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

The Symposium was a lot of fun and very inspiring. Right now, I am planning on submitting a paper for next year's conference.

As for the research I've been doing at the Hall, I'm keeping a list of every request I complete. I'm anxious to see in the end how much I did.

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