Clair: Chatting with Joe Price of the Institute of Baseball Studies

From SABR member Michael Clair at’s Cut Four on August 5, 2015:

On a warm midweek morning last month, I drove from Los Angeles to the quiet, unassuming town of Whittier, Calif. Hidden inside the Mendenhall building at Whittier College, a private liberal arts school with approximately 1,600 students, is the Institute for Baseball Studies. I was there to meet with Joe Price, the co-director of the Institute and a religious studies professor when not on the baseball beat. 

After a walk through the building, which also houses the school’s empty former library, we came across a small hallway featuring posters of Dock Ellis and Ila Borders, a woman who once played baseball for Whittier College in independent baseball leagues. Price tells me that The Institute is “a home for research with resources for scholars and students and journalists and fans to come and basically read, learn and talk baseball.”

In its current state, that means a cozy classroom-turned-library filled with baseball books and memorabilia like Monte Irvin’s signed cleats. It’s beginning to burst at its seems — the bookshelves are 75 percent full and two interns have spent their summer vacation cataloguing recent additions that still needed to be sorted and organized on one of the tables that littered the room.

Rather than using the Dewey Decimal System, the Institute has its own propriety subcategorizations. There were sections for biographies (Hall of Famers get their own special area), with others for humor, art and music, baseball journalism and more. The remaining walls are filled with memorabilia and artwork like Greg Jezewski’s “Origin of Species.” Price gleefully pointed out that the cave opening resembles the MLB logo.

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Originally published: August 7, 2015. Last Updated: August 7, 2015.