Baseball and Cricket: An Open Letter to Beth Hise

Editor’s note: Peter Mancuso, chairman of SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee, organized the third annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference, held earlier this month at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Among the events scheduled was a tour of the Hall of Fame’s new exhibit “Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect,” curated by SABR member Beth Hise. Hise has also authored a book of the same name (available online at here); she works as a curator at the Historic Houses Trust in Sydney, Australia. Mancuso was so blown away by the exhibit that he wrote an open letter to Hise, congratulating her on “Swinging Away.” He has generously shared that letter with

April 27, 2011

Dear Beth,

As I am sure you know, our Nineteenth Century Committee held its third Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference on April 15 and 16 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Having the conference expanded an extra half-day this year allowed us to double the number of research presentations from three to six, while adding a number of features to our usual program, including a Member Spotlight Interview and a 45-minute walk-through of the new exhibit, the one for which you were curator, “Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect”.

Tom Shieber of the Hall of Fame, who was attending our conference, gave us a brief explanation about the exhibit and about your role in creating it. He explained that the exhibit had travelled here from the Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord’s in London, England, and that it would be on display at the Hall of Fame until next February. Tom went on about you a bit more and characterized you as, “A FIVE TOOL CURATOR!” That is, he explained, “She knows baseball. “She knows cricket. “She knows the history of baseball. “She knows the history of cricket. “And, she is an All-Star curator!”

It was Friday afternoon, the day before it would open to the public, when our merry band of 19th-century baseball enthusiasts headed upstairs for our walk-through. I, as conference coordinator, took up the rear of our procession. By the time I was nearing the third floor, I could hear the excitement ahead of me. As I walked into the exhibit space, I knew I had made a terrible mistake – I hadn’t allowed, by a long shot, enough time in our conference program to even dent the exhibition. The more I looked, the more there was to see. So much to see, so little time; it was a hellish experience.

The volume/time problem was only made worse when the quality and rarity of the artifacts began to sink in as I tried desperately to speed read the display descriptions. I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm. Our conference program featured: David Block as our luncheon keynote speaker, John Thorn as our panel discussion moderator and the subject of our Member Spotlight Interview and Bill Humber as our Special Presenter on cricket and baseball in North America; all of who did the stellar job that everyone expected; they were excited, too.

Fifty very savvy baseball-history people in all, presenting, discussing, informing and learning about our National Pastime, its history and origins, were for our too brief of a walk-through, resembling kids in a candy store. I did scoop up the exhibit’s companion book of the same title in the Hall of Fame bookstore before the end of the conference so that I could vicariously extend my tour of the display until I can get back to Cooperstown for more of the real thing.

Hence, I have made this an open letter to you for three reasons: First, to publicly congratulate you on a most incredible piece of work – historically a work of art; second, to thank you for breathing life into the question of “How Cricket and Baseball Connect”; and, finally, to let all of our Nineteenth Century Committee Members and anyone else in SABR with an interest in our game’s history, that your exhibit “Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect” should not be missed.

Best Regards,

Peter Mancuso

Chairman, SABR Nineteenth Century Research Committee

For a full recap and more photos of the third annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Base Ball Conference, check out the upcoming edition of SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee newsletter. For more information on the Nineteenth Century Committee, click here. To view past committee newsletters, click here.

To learn more about the Hall of Fame’s “Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect” exhibit, click here.

Originally published: April 27, 2011. Last Updated: April 27, 2011.