Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Chicago Baseball Museum- Keeping our History Alive

"Baseball is a game dominated by vital ghosts; it's a fraternity, like no other we have of the active and the no longer so- the living and the dead."- Richard Gilman

One of the earliest lessons taught to us as young children is that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it. There is only one instance in which I can consider that a positive- and that's when it comes to baseball. In baseball, those who dont remember the past are doomed to forget it, and that seems like a worse punishment.

Ballplayers always remark of how they grew up watching players who they asipred to be like, and coaches call on managers and coaches from their past that they were taught by.

Most of us can recall a player or two that we specifically remember growing up listening to stories of, or watching as a young child who really touched our hearts. For me, that was Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt was staple of my young child hood, but I grew up listening to stories of guys like Dick Allen, Richie Zisk, etc. Rarely however, do I remember hearing much about the players pre-1959 "Go Go Sox" era.

In fact, not until I in my early teens did I really open my eyes up to players who marked the times at the turn of the century, or in the roaring 20's, or durring the Depression Era. Guys like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio I had heard of, of course, but I dug deeper and read about Christy Matthewson, Lefty Grove, Mel Ott, Goose Goslin, and Grover Cleveland. I could name the entire starting line up for the 1917 and 1919 White Sox team by the time I was 15. Still everyone around me seemed to be talking about the players "today." A-Rod, Jeter, the power houses of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, McGwire and Sosa, etc. Not once did I ever hear someone say "Hey, CC Sabathia just won his 28th game this season."

In fact, in 2001 when Sabathia tore up the American League going 17-5, I remember being looked at strangly in my home room when I chimed in "Lefty Grove had a 31-4 record one year when he played." "Who the HELL is Lefty Grove?" a kid asked, looking at me like I was the biggest idiot. Clearly I had been talking about someone who played in the minors, or little league, or who had had some steller freshman college career that maybe they might want to hear about for drafting reasons.

I sunk back in my chair and went back to doing homework. I felt stupid explaining to them who Hall of Famer, Lefty Grove, was and how he had completed 8 of his 17 major league seasons with 20+ wins. The guy played back in the 1920's and 1930's. No one cared about him right now. At least not a bunch of 15 year old teenage kids. Right now they cared about Roy Oswalt and CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki.

I cared about Lefty Grove, and Buck Weaver, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. I still come close to tears thinking about the hard work men like them put into the game. At 23 years of age I sometimes run into the occassional die hard fan who wants to talk about Eddie Cicotte or Lefty Williams with me (dont get confused- Lefty Williams and Lefty Grove are not the same people. Back before the 1980's EVERYONE in baseball had nicknames, and a lot of them got repeated). It's usually guys in their late 20's who want to sit and have a drink and talk about the "good old days" as if they had actually been there, and usually they play or have played a professional sport.

However, what about those guys who dont know about the greatest players to ever play the game? Not just Ted Williams or Dimaggio or Ruth, but right here in our own back yard. What about Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Ray Schalk, Happy Felsch, Buck Weaver, Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins and Jimmy Adair, Johnny Evers, Vic Aldridge, Grover Alexander, Jimmy Archer, Frank Chance and Joe Tinker? Obviously just to name a few.

I'm a Chicago White Sox fan but I have the upmost respect and appreciation for the Chicago Cubs organization. They have turned some of the greatest players to ever play the game out into baseball and I will always be thankfull and respectfull towards men who put up numbers like Ryne Sandberg,Ernie Banks, and Andre Dawson. Chicago is rich and full in baseball history. In all of the places I have lived since I was out of high school, I have never lived in a place that is so full of baseball excitement as Chicago. Sure, ESPN coins Boston "Red Sox Nation" and New York is "Yankee Town," but Chicago has the Cubs and the Sox.

Chicago has a 1/2 century old rivalry that puts Yanks/Mets to shame. Chicago has turned out some of the greatest names in baseball history- both in players, managers, owners, and coaches. Chicago has brought excitement, and sadness to it's fans. Defeat and elation, joy and exhaustion, as year after year the Southside and Northside teams duke it out with their respective National and American League counterparts for a division title.

The Sox/Cubs fan sterotypes and rivalry plague Chicago like a black blanket sweeping over the town as soon as the first pitch of opening day is thrown in both parks across town, and doesn't end until late into the fall when the last out is made. Some will debate that the rivalry doesnt even end then- it's just masked by a mutual love for the Bears or Blackhawks while we all patiently wait for Cubs Convention and SoxFest when we can start ribbing eachother again.

But in the grand scheme of things, whether we bleed Cubby Blue or know that Good Guys Wear Black, none of that matters because we are Chicago fans. We may hate the Sox, or hate the cubs, but we love baseball. We love the history, rich and exotic. We love the stories of the mind-numbingly brilliant ballplayers who have graced the streets of our town. We retire numbers and put pictures on outfield walls to honor the late greats who have come before us. We erect statues outside on Clark and Addison, and 35th and Shields, so that our children will never forget the men who made the game of baseball great in the windy city.

We have virtually turned Chicago into our own Cooperstown, but what if we had the chance to go somewhere and visit and learn about the history of Chicago Baseball? What if there were an actual place where we could take our children, bright and eager to learn of Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso? Where we could teach them about the reign of Bill Veeck on the Southside and of Harry Caray's exceptional broadcast excellence on the Northside?

What's best about the idea- is that it's a possibility.

Dr. David Fletcher has been working to erect The Chicago Baseball Museum for a few years now. Once just a dream of his, he has brought it so close to be reality that he, and Conrad "Connie" Kowal can smell it. Both huge baseball advocates, they understand the importance of keeping the history of baseball alive in Chicago. They have founded the Chicago Baseball Museum out of passion and love for the game, and continue to work to help bring it into existance for all baseball fans in the city.

Right now it's in it's beginning stages and continues to grow due to the generoicity and excitment of Chicago's very own plans. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, it "collects, preserves, documents, researches, and interpruts artifacts and events which are associated with the legacy, evolution and contemporary life of Chicago baseball." (

The dream of the CBM (which has so amazingly agreed to let me work with them to promote awarness for their campaign and the campaigns for Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson) is to become a place to exhibit gallerys for Chicago Baseball including the Cubs, White Sox, the Chicago Negro Leagues, both the minor and major leagues, 16" Softball, and Chicago Baseball Broadcasting.

The CBM will include seminars, speaking events, galleries, programs, workshops, lectures, debates, baseball skill workshops, fundraising galas, festivels, community events, etc. However to make this all a reality, the CBM needs your help. In order to get on it's feet the CBM first and foremost needs a location. Already the proud owners of the Jerome Holtzman collection, the CBM could open easily within 2 weeks if it had a location. In order to get a location the CBM needs funding. This is where you all come in.

The CBM is a 501(c)(3) which means your donations are tax deductable. So all you simply have to do is donate. There are 4 levels of donation including

The CBM Single ($25)
-recieve a comemorative label pin

The CBM Double ($50)
-reieve a Chicago Baseball Museum long sleeved t-shirt

The CBM Triple ($75)
-receive the CBM-produced DVD Documentary, “Buck O’Neil and Black Baseball in Chicago

The CBM Home run ($100)
-receive CBM commemorative Lapel Pin
-receive CBM commemorative Long Sleeve T-Shirt
-receive the CBM-produced DVD Documentary, “Buck O’Neil and Black Baseball in Chicago

Of course, donations of any kind are always appreciated. There are a few ways you can do this. One is by following the link here.

You can contact the CBM at:


The Chicago Baseball Museum
Attention Dr. David Fletcher
1611 W. Harrison, Suite 351
Chicago Il, 60612

or you are welcome to contact me for ANY information, brochures, etc


In order to preserve and help keep the history of Chicago Baseball alive, we as fans, in this town that loves baseball more than anything else, need to ban together to and make this possbility into a reality. I equate it to the Buck Weaver campaign. It might take a while to get done, but it's going to happen.

We're a baseball town. We need to teach the ins and outs of this amazing sport to our children. And when we pass away there needs to be something there to help our children teach their children even more throughlly about this sport so that they dont forget Algren's Ode to Shoeless Joe or Tinker-To Evers-To Chance.

So donate. I couldn't think of a better cause for a historical aspect in Chicago. In a few years, take your children to see pictures and still movies of your favorite baseball hero's. Join panels to discuss the 1919 Black Sox scandal (don't be suprised when you see me there!), go to community events and utalize all of our favorite sport. Become a part of a cause today, that will keep baseball history alive tomorrow.

We Are Chicago Baseball


  1. Yes, WE are Chicago Baseball, Cubs and Sox both... When I first saw the title of this blog I thought, oh great Dickson is going to slam my Cubbies again, but I thought it was great how you paid tribute to both teams... Nice blog, even though we both know the Cubs are the greatest in town!! lol

  2. Great post again! I didn't know much about the CBM before I spoke to you the other night, so thank you for all the info!!! -S

  3. Another great post and cause hopefully very soon the CBM can open its doors to the Greatest fans in the city and world !!