Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 03:31:01 EST


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?

Nothing's easy!!