Gerald Wood receives 2014 SABR Seymour Medal at NINE Conference banquet

Author Gerald C. Wood accepted his 2014 Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal for Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend, on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the NINE Conference banquet in Tempe, Arizona.

“I’m very honored. Thank you to all who enjoyed and supported my book,” said Gerald Wood, a retired English professor from New Market, Tennessee, and no relation to Smoky Joe. “I was fascinated by (Joe) Wood’s riveting life, his passion for the game, and his engaging voice.”

The Seymour Medal honors the best book of baseball history or biography published during the preceding calendar year.

Wood is a Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Carson-Newman College and co-author of Northsiders: Essays on the History and Culture of the Chicago Cubs. His research took him to Smoky Joe’s far-flung old haunts in Ness City, Kansas, and Ouray, Colorado. He was able to befriend Joe Wood’s son, the late Robert K. Wood, who was the caretaker of his father’s legacy, and Dr. Leo Cooney, the Yale University doctor who treated Joe Wood in his later years.

“Decades later, Dr. Cooney was able to finally diagnose the old rotator cuff injury that had prematurely ended Smoky Joe’s pitching career,” Gerald Wood said. “I didn’t ask him how that related to treating Joe for dementia. … He’s a huge Red Sox fan.”

Wood concluded his acceptance speech by offering tips to aspiring authors:

“Here’s my formula for writing a baseball biography: Pick a subject with a compelling life — then get lucky. I got really lucky.” 

Hosted by NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture, the NINE Spring Training Conference promotes the study of all historical aspects of baseball and centers on the cultural implications of the game wherever in the world baseball is played.

A highlight of the 21st annual NINE Conference was a Wednesday night session with Janet Marie Smith, the Los Angeles Dodgers Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, who was also involved with the construction of Camden Yards in Baltimore and the transformation of Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic stadium into Turner Field.

Research presentations at the NINE Conference included “Norman Rockwell Imagines the National Pastime: Baseball as American Cultural Representation” by Larry Gerlach; “Baseball in the Digital Age” by Jon Leonoudakis; “42 and Hollywood’s Version of Jackie Robinson’s Legacy” by Lisa Doris Alexander; “‘Choke City’: Urban Identity and the 1969 Baltimore Orioles” by Richard Hardesty; and “‘Grab Some Buds’: Baseball, Beer Advertising and Masculinity” by Roberta J. Newman.

Saturday’s keynote presentation was delivered by author George Gmelch, a professor of anthropology at the University of San Francisco and a former minor leaguer in the Detroit Tigers organization. He spoke about the changes in minor league baseball from his career in the 1960s to the present day.

Check out more photos from the 2014 NINE Conference banquet below:

SABRphotos's 2014 NINE Conference album on Photobucket


Originally published: March 19, 2014. Last Updated: March 19, 2014.