Editor's note: The SABR Salute, first bestowed upon writer Fred Lieb in 1976, was designed as a manner of recognizing the contributions of some of the older members of the Society. Subsequent SABR Salutes appeared in the SABR Membership Directory and honored members who had made great contributions to baseball historical research. Joe Overfield received the SABR Salute in 1986; the following biographical sketch appeared in that year's membership directory.
Joseph Overfield was born April 7, 1916, in Buffalo, New York, a city which has recognized him for the last generation as its leading baseball authority. That recognition was climaxed in 1985 by the publication of The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball. Joe viewed the 250-page paperback as local history, but copies have been sold to baseball fans in almost every state and several foreign countries. It is particularly prized by former players, some dating back to the 1920s, who are mentioned or pictured in the well researched book.
The incident that sparked Joe's interest in baseball history took place many years ago when he discovered in County Hall records a balance sheet of the Buffalo Baseball Association for 1878. He then began to delve into the early history of Buffalo baseball and found a gold mine of long-forgotten information. The first of many baseball articles he has written appeared in the Buffalo Evening News in 1953. Historian Lee Allen encouraged his research and suggested that he try to write a history of Buffalo baseball. In that connection Joe has benefitted from a close relationship with the local team. He was a director and secretary during the community ownership of the club (1956-61) and is presently club historian.
Joe attended Buffalo public schools; Buffalo Collegiate Center (two-year certificate), and University evening classes (no degree). He began work with the Monroe Abstract Corp. in 1937 and, except for three years in the Army Air Corps in WWII (China-Burma-India theater), he has been with the company ever since. Now semi-retired, he is vice-president and consultant. He married Clara M. Schurr in 1941. They have one son, Jim, chairman of the History Department at the University of Vermont.
A member of SABR since April 8, 1972, Joe has contributed many articles to its publications, as well as research support for both volumes of Minor League Baseball Stars. He has not attended any national convention only because his wife has been hospitalized for several years with multiple sclerosis. A talented artist before her illness, she did the sketch of Jim Galvin for Joe's article in the 1982 Research Journal. Joe also assisted in the research for the revisions to the Barnes Official Encyclopedia of Baseball. In addition, he has written two books on local church history, and a monograph, The Last Voyage of the Hudson captained by his grandfather, who died on the trip. But Joe, who saw his first professional game at old Bison Stadium in 1925, spends most of his spare time on the diamond sport. Who was his favorite player? Ollie Carnegie and Luke Easter were two he saw and Jim Galvin was one he was sorry he missed.
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- Jim Overfield's updated book on Buffalo baseball history was published in 2020
- Read more of Joseph Overfield's early articles for SABR