Steve Gietscher

Henry Chadwick Award: Steve Gietschier

This article was written by Lyle Spatz

This article was published in Spring 2023 Baseball Research Journal

These are the qualifications for the Henry Chadwick Award: “The contributions of nominees must have had public impact. This may be demonstrated by publication of research in any of a variety of formats: books, magazine articles, websites, etc. The compilation of a significant database or archive that has facilitated the published research of others will also be considered in the realm of public impact.”

Perhaps more than for any of the previous winners of this award, that description fits Steve Gietschier.

Steven Philip Gietschier was born in Brooklyn in 1948, but his family moved to Hicksville, Long Island, soon after. Though Dodgers fandom was in his genes, the team was gone as Steve was developing his life long love of baseball. When the Mets came on the scene in 1962, he quickly became their devoted fan, and though he has lived in and around St. Louis for 37 years, he remains a Mets fan to this day.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1970 from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Steve attended Ohio State University where he earned a Masters Degree (1971) and PhD (1977) in History. He worked at the Ohio Historical Society while pursuing his graduate degrees and then, in 1978, moved on to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

He was still there when an ad in the October/November 1985 newsletter of the Society of American Archivists captured his attention. The Sporting News was looking for an archivist, preferably one familiar with sports and sports history. Steve, an archivist and an avid sports fan, envisioned his dream job. He applied for the position and, after a series of interviews, was hired. He began working at TSN in September 1986. From day one, he discovered their holdings were vast, valuable, and completely disorganized.

Hired to organize TSN’s varied collection of books, historical materials, and photographs, he transformed their archives into the renowned Sporting News Research Center, providing reference and research services to writers, editors, and members of the public. Steve spent 22 years at The Sporting News. His job title changed several times—Director of Historical Records, 1986-2000; Senior Managing Editor, Research, 2000-07; Managing Editor, Research, 2007-08; and Archives Manager, 2008—but he always strived to serve both internal customers (TSN writers and editors) and external customers, including lots of SABR members.

When TSN redesigned the Baseball Guide in 1992, Steve took over writing the “Year in Review” essay, which he continued to write until the Guide’s final edition in 2006. Steve is rightly proud that he continued the tradition of an annual guide and an annual year-in -review essay, originated by Henry Chadwick himself, in 1860. On a personal note, starting in 2004, he used his position as the editor of the late and sorely missed Sporting News Record Book to publish the records-changes found by SABR researchers.

When The Sporting News relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2008, Steve stayed behind. He served as the University Curator and as a Professor of History from 2009 to 2020 at Lindenwood University, in St. Charles, Missouri. Since 2021, he has served as an Archival consultant for Sporting News Enterprises UK.

Steve has written or edited numerous articles on baseball history and has taught college-level courses on baseball and other American sports. His latest book, Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2023. The book picks up where the second volume of the two-volume history of baseball by Harold Seymour and Dorothy Seymour Mills left off. How fitting for one of this year’s honorees, already linked to Henry Chad wick, to be linked to two of the award’s first honorees.

Steve and Donna Gietschier live in Florissant, Missouri. They are fortunate to have their two daughters, Katie Meyers and Sarah Hartman—as well as four grandsons: Andy and Patrick Meyers, and Joey and Max Hartman—living nearby. 

LYLE SPATZ has been a SABR member for 51 years. He chaired the Baseball Records Committee from 1991 to 2016.