Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 03:31:01 EST
From: Bapopik Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Sporting Life gaps
What one does for a microfilm gap!
If you go to the New York Public Library's CATNYP catalog (also online)
for SPORTING LIFE, you'll find that the library has v. 1-6, 9-16, 25-70, Apr.
15,1883-Apr. 7, 1886, Apr. 13, 1887-Mar. 28, 1891, Mar. 1895-June 3, 1922.
New York City's Knickbocker Base Ball Club helped originate the modern
game of baseball. The New York Public Library's Spalding Baseball Collection
is one of the nation's finest. SPORTING LIFE (published in Philadelphia) was
published in v. 1-74, Apr. 15, 1883-1926. Along with THE SPORTING NEWS and
THE CLIPPER, SPORTING LIFE is essential to any scholarly baseball collection.
The New York Public Library absolutely has to have a complete run.
Yet the NYPL is missing volumes 7, 8, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 71,
72, 73, and 74! Not only is there this huge gap, but what IS microfilmed is
in tiny print, blurry, torn, and nearly unreadable!
I first visited the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, New York
for a few days in February 1996. I noticed then that it had a full run of
SPORTING LIFE, but I didn't have time to go through all of those volumes.
Besides, I thought it could be cured by other, closer institutions.
I contacted the Philadelphia Free Library. It had the same microfilm,
with the same gaps! Ditto for the Library of Congress!
SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research) has a lending library
that includes THE SPORTING NEWS and SPORTING LIFE. I asked for 1886-1887;
SABR gave me 1896-1897. Several calls over several months said that the
microfilm I wanted was out on loan. I asked if the microfilm existed at all.
I don't remember what the full deal was, but I placed an order for WHENEVER
it's available, and the fact is, it's been two years. It ain't comin'.
The period 1886-1887 was especially important for the terms "fan,"
"Charley horse," and even "Windy City." I had to have it. I was busy with
huge personal stuff in 1997 and then ANS and ADS meetings, but now was the
time to revisit Cooperstown.
The plan was to leave on the 3:30 p.m. Sunday bus (immediately after the
ADS meeting) for the five-and-a-half hour ride to Cooperstown, NY; then a stay
in a hotel; then a 9 a.m.-4 p.m. work session (without lunch); and then return
on the 4:30 p.m. bus, arriving back in NYC at 10 p.m. All for a f***ing
I pleaded with the Cooperstown Library for me to buy a copy of the
microfilms and donate them to the NYPL, so this wouldn't happen to anybody
again. I got standard doublespeak about how the microfilms couldn't leave the
building--even to be copied!
After the library, I waited for the 4:30 p.m. bus home. And waited.
Then I looked at the schedule and realized that the 4:30 p.m. bus was for
WEEKENDS ONLY. On weekdays, there was only ONE bus home, and that was at 9
I took a bus to nearby Oneonta--the same thing I'd done two years ago.
However, the routes were cut back to a 5:50 a.m. bus and a 2:55 p.m. bus--both
of which I'd missed! I stayed overnight in Oneonta, took the 5:50 a.m. bus,
called in late for work (snowstorm, ya know), got to work at 12:30, worked
without a lunch until closing at 6:30 p.m., and now present some of the
Who knows if it was worth all that friggin' trouble?