Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First days in Cooperstown

We finally got internet service here at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where the Steele Interns are lodging this summer.

I failed to mention (for all the card collectors out there) that the Steele who sponsors these internships is Peggy Steele, wife of the late Frank Steele. You might be familiar with them because of the Perez-Steele connection with baseball cards (postcards, Diamond Kings, etc.). The Hall of Fame played an important part in their success and when Frank passed away, Peggy felt it would be good to give back to the Hall. Getting to meet her has been a treat in and of itself.

Not everything has been a treat. Got here yesterday and it was sweltering. We have no air conditioning. I don't have air at home but I guess in my head, college dorms should have air so I was mildly irritated at that. Of course, it was gorgeous and cool today and this evening so hopefully we'll be all right.

I will try and share notable experiences here as they happen. Today was centered around orientation. I had tremendous good fortune with the two draws I was involved in. First, every year one of the former interns donates two pairs of tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway. One pair goes to an intern, another pair goes to an intern supervisor. My name was randomly selected from the 22 interns so I will be heading to Fenway Park in August.

Speaking of the 22 interns, we were told that over 480 people applied for these internships. I was surprised at that number and even more pleased that I was chosen for the honor. That wasn't the other random draw (I don't think).

The other draw came when we were choosing topics for our artifact presentations. The Hall has over 35,000 three dimensional artifacts of which only 7-10 percent are displayed at any time. This makes for a lot of stuff in storage. To help get some of this stuff out they do artifact presentations where items are taken out of storage and talks are given about them.

We were told about these during the interview process and I had this sense that we would get to roam around and pick out things that interested us. In the back of my head, I wanted to do something on Addie Joss. I feel he is tremendously underappreciated and he is one of my favorite Deadball Era players.

Alas, we did not get to roam around. The staff had ten sets of paired artifacts, each with a theme. We each had to pick a pair but only two people could pick each pair. Numbers 21 and 22 would then get their choice to be the third to cover a set (sometimes there is a benefit to being last). For each pair of artifacts, we have to hit the library and research the items and prepare a talk to be given to the public at least three times while we are here. While we may have the same topic, each of us is to do our own research and prepare our own talks on the artifacts.

The pairs were unveiled and I was underwhelmed initially. Oddball bats was leading my list followed by Olympic Baseball when set nine was revealed. The minor leagues! Aw, yeah! I'm all over the minor leagues. But then set ten was made known to us. Recent retirees and inductions. The two artifacts were a pair of Randy Johnson's cleats and the trophy from the benefit game played in Addie Joss's honor to raise money for his wife upon his death.

I was greatly torn. My heart lies with the minor leagues but I wanted to do Joss and here I was given the opportunity. We drew numbers for our picking order and I was fourth up to choose. The first person chose the minors and then so did the third. I guess it was meant to be. I will be presenting on Joss, just like I wanted.

If you go back and look at my card breaks, you will notice something hanging on the wall behind my head. It's this photo of the rosters of the benefit game.

Fun fact about this photo. Look at the third played from the left and the last player on the right. See any similarities? It's Jack Graney both times. In those days, these panoramic photos were done with long exposures as the camera slowly panned across the subject matter. Graney got in position, waited until the camera went by, ran behind the line and got back in line at the end so he appears twice.

Another interesting thing about that photo....check out the third player from the right? Why it's Ty Cobb and he's in a Cleveland uniform! Cobb's uniform was lost on the train and he was forced to don a Cleveland uni for the game.

As to the success of the benefit game, the game raised almost $13,000 for Joss's widow, a testimony to how liked and regarded Joss was.

Of course, I will not be talking about the photo. I'll be talking about the trophy. But it's nice that I have a bit of a head start. If you think you might be in the Cooperstown area this summer and want to hear my talk, let me know and I will let you know my dates as soon as I know them myself.

Thank you, too, for all the well-wishes via the comments and e-mails. I've only been here two days but it has been a tremendous thrill and a great experience already. I'm looking forward to what else is in store.


night owl said...


Mark's Ephemera said...

I look forward to more of these types of posts if you can crank them out.

Nice draws.