Baseball season is upon us, even if many parts of the country are still in the throes of winter! With the Nationals’ home opener against the Mets this afternoon, here are some baseball-related items in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division to whet your appetite and gear up for Major League Baseball’s 2019 season. We’re especially excited about a brand new finding aid covering baseball and softball on film and television—read on for more information! For even more baseball, see previous Now See Hear! posts here and here.
An old time radio show for baseball fans is an NBC program called “Here’s Babe Ruth.” Sponsored by Spalding, the Sultan of Swat shared his thoughts on the game, discussed his career, answered questions from fans—mostly children—and in turn quizzed listeners on baseball trivia for cash prizes. The program began in the summer of 1943 and was picked up again in 1944. The Recorded Sound Section’s holdings range from June to November 1943, and a few episodes from 1944. They can be found in SONIC, the Recorded Sound Section’s catalog that’s specific to sound recordings.
Interested in World Series coverage? We’ve got that too. In SONIC, you’ll find coverage ranging from every game to brief updates for World Series from most years between 1936 and 1968.
Jackie Robinson is another baseball great who hosted his share of radio programs. Also found in SONIC, as part of the NBC Radio Collection, is his “Platter Up Club”—a children’s program in which Robinson played records and talked about baseball.
Another great recorded sound resource comes from the Library’s partnership with the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in Chicago. Terkel was a radio host, author, and oral historian who interviewed thousands of people on as many topics. One of his favorites, however, was baseball. In the summer of 2018, the Recorded Sound Section hosted an event honoring Studs and baseball, featuring filmmakers John Sayles and Derek Goldman and actor David Strathairn of the famous baseball film Eight Men Out, to discuss baseball, Terkel’s radio legacy, and the Studs Terkel Radio Archive. You can watch a recording of the event here, and explore the archive, including many of Terkel’s sports interviews, at studsterkel.wfmt.com.
You can also find one or two baseball numbers in the National Jukebox:
- “Fascinating Base-ball Slide” (1912) performed by Elsie Janis
- “That Baseball Rag” (1913) performed by Arthur Collins
To listen to music in the National Jukebox, make sure Adobe Flash is installed and enabled in your browser.
Baseball is also abundant in the moving image collections of the Library of Congress.
America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894 to 1915 is a digital collection that features work, school, and leisure activities as caught on film by early motion picture cameras. Most of the films are from the Paper Print Collection, which consists of strips of film printed as photographs on paper, frame by frame, and deposited for copyright. Film wasn’t an accepted medium for copyright until 1912, but photographs were, and so filmmakers registering their works for copyright prior to 1912 cleverly submitted these photographic “paper prints.”
The digital collection features a short Edison film of a baseball game:
Find all of the Library’s digital collections here.
We’re also excited to share a new finding aid about baseball in the Library’s moving image collections, compiled by reference librarian Josie Walters-Johnston: Baseball and Softball on Film and Television in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress. The finding aid features newsreels, actualities, shorts, educational films, documentaries, feature films, television, and highlight reels, and is now available on the Moving Image Research Center’s website. Just in time for baseball season!
The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Research Centers welcome questions about our collections—don’t hesitate to get in touch! To find moving image and recorded sound materials, search the Online Catalog and SONIC, or get in touch with Moving Image and Recorded Sound reference staff through Ask-a-Librarian. Visit the Moving Image Research Center and Recorded Sound Research Center websites for more information on researching our collections.