Early film found of blacks playing baseball on Georgia plantation

From Robbie Brown at the New York Times on April 30, 2013, with mention of SABR member Craig Muder:

Buried in storage at a sprawling antebellum Georgia plantation is a film clip that has baseball enthusiasts buzzing.

At first glance, it looks ordinary. The grainy, out-of-focus black-and-white footage shows black men playing baseball in a grassy field for 26 seconds. Nobody hits a ball or runs toward a base.

But University of Georgia archivists say the film is remarkable for its age: If shot between 1917 and 1919, as they believe, it is the oldest known film of African-American baseball players.

“It’s truly a great find,” said Raymond Doswell, a curator at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. “We haven’t seen any black baseball footage from that era.”

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., has analyzed the film but not determined whether it is the oldest of its kind, said Craig Muder, a spokesman.

“Unfortunately our archivists do not have a point where they can say, ‘This is the first or this is among the first,’ ” Mr. Muder said. But historians there are continuing to analyze the film.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/us/early-film-is-found-of-blacks-playing-baseball.html

View the original video here: http://www.libs.uga.edu/media/collections/homemovies/pebblehill.html

Originally published: April 30, 2013. Last Updated: April 30, 2013.