Francis: Brian Kenny keynote speech highlights Cooperstown Symposium

From SABR member Bill Francis at on June 2, 2017:

Different ways to look at our National Pastime are on full display at the 29th Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.

The three-day affair held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which concludes on Friday, brings together academics, students, historians, writers and fans with an interest in the sport. Founded in 1989, the Symposium constitutes baseball’s preeminent academic conference with interesting and incisive presentations on virtually every aspect of the game.

“We provide a unique platform for academics from around the country to come to Cooperstown and to discuss baseball and its relation to our culture and society,” said Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates, a co-coordinator of the event. “We don’t talk about baseball on the field; we talk about everything else – art, music, poetry, literature, economics, architecture, whatever.”


This year’s annual Symposium, with almost 200 attendees from around the country, had more than 50 presentations that took place in both the Bullpen Theater and Learning Center. The wide-ranging titles included: “White Face in a Black Place: Eddie Klep and the Integration of the Negro Leagues,” “Baseball: The First Social Network,” “Robinson Agonistes: The Curious Bromance and Breakup of Jackie Robinson and Richard Nixon,” and “Craft in the Clubhouse: A Comparative Study of American Freemasonry and the National Game.”

This year’s keynote address was given by Brian Kenny, a broadcaster known first nationally as an ESPN fixture for over a decade before joining the MLB Network in 2011. His presentation, entitled, “What Were We Thinking?: A History of Ignoring Competitive Advantage,” was held before a full house in the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Galley on Wednesday night.

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Originally published: June 2, 2017. Last Updated: June 2, 2017.