I received some good news the other day. After weeks of wondering, I’ve been accepted as a presenter at the annual Cooperstown Baseball Symposium, which takes place June 7th through the 9th at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Unlike most of the other presenters, I won’t have to worry much about travel costs; the Hall of Fame is located about 3.2 miles from my house. Heck, maybe I’ll walk.) I’ll be presenting on one of my pet projects: major league baseball’s first all-black lineup, highlighted by the Hall of Fame duo of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, which made its debut 35 years ago.
The Symposium, though not a highly publicized event, is arguably the most prestigious baseball-related conference in the country. (To find out how to register for the Symposium, visit the Hall’s web site and click onto the link for the research library.) Featuring interactive talks about a wide range of baseball topics, it attracts many of the game’s leading scholars, including book authors, college professors, and just-plain-rabid baseball fans who are interested in baseball from a historical perspective and as a cultural phenomenon. Each year, the Symposium is highlighted by a keynote speaker, usually a brand name who is considered a sports heavyweight, such as Marvin Miller, the late George Plimpton, Roger Kahn, or Donald Fehr. All of those men have spoken at the Symposium since its inception 18 years ago.
If you’re a baseball fan who lives somewhere in the Northeast, or within a reasonable distance of Cooperstown, I highly recommend attending the Symposium. In addition to learning something about baseball—some aspect of the game that you never could have imagined—you’ll have an opportunity to talk baseball with some legitimately nice people who are as avid about the game as you are.
And this year, you’ll get to learn more about baseball’s history-making all-black lineup of September 1, 1971—and pepper me with all sorts of obscure and embarrassing questions.
Like spring training and the winter meetings, it’s one of those baseball experiences you need to have at least once in your life.