Womack: Alexander Cleland, little-known force behind the founding of Cooperstown
From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on July 21, 2017:
In 1987, baseball was two years from celebrating both the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame’s 1939 dedication and the 150th anniversary of the game’s purported, though widely discredited, founding in Cooperstown, New York. Four popular baseball films—Eight Men Out, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Major League—would come out by 1989, with the myth of Cooperstown stoking box office demand.
At around the same time, James A. Vlasich, a history professor at Southern Utah College, had seen a short notice in the Society for American Baseball Research newsletter and had begun working to correct a historical oversight.
The notice Vlasich saw, as he would recount in his book A Legend for the Legendary—published by Bowling Green State University Popular Press—concerned a presentation a man named Don Cleland intended to make at a SABR meeting in Las Vegas about his grandfather’s papers. Don Cleland’s grandfather was Alexander Cleland, who had served as the first executive secretary of the Hall of Fame from 1935 through his retirement in 1941. He had died in 1954 at age 77 and had long faded from public conscience by 1987. Even today, his name may not be known to many baseball fans. However, without him, there might not be a Baseball Hall of Fame—at least not in Cooperstown.
This page was last updated July 21, 2017 at 10:01 am MST.