SABR Salute: James Bready

Editor’s note: The SABR Salute, first bestowed upon writer Fred Lieb in 1976, was designed as a manner of recognizing the contributions of some of the older members of the Society. Subsequent SABR Salutes appeared in the SABR Membership Directory and honored members who had made great contributions to baseball historical research. James Bready (1919-2011) received the SABR Salute in 1986; the following biographical sketch appeared in that year’s membership directory.

James H. Bready (pronounced Brady) was born to a journalism career — both his parents were on the staff of the Public Ledger in Philadelphia, where Jim was born on February 20, 1919. He was graduated from Woodbury High and Moorestown Friends, in South Jersey, and then got a B.A. from Haverford College and an M.A. from Harvard University. Having worked summers for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin,he got a job after college with the Des Moines Tribune. He was in the Army for almost five years in World War II, seeing Europe from Scotland to Czechoslovakia.

In peacetime, Jim was hired by the Washington Post but along came a better offer from the Sunpapers in Baltimore. Forty years went by before he stirred again — going out the door and into retirement, last November. Variously, he was copyreader; reporter, feature writer, editorial writer and columnist. Never a sportswriter, he became adept at planting articles on bygone Baltimore baseball in other parts of the paper. He interviewed Frank Foreman, Sadie McMahon, Bill Clarke, Jack Doyle, Bill Hoffer, Rube Parnham and (by phone) Cy Young; he knew Hy Turkin and Lee Allen. While Baltimore’s 51-year exile from the American League was ending, Jim began work on a book, “The Home Team.” Jim and his wife Mary were there for the Orioles’ triumphant Opening Day in 1954; by now, they have an unbroken attendance string of 33 home openers.

“The Home Team,” a 9″ by 12″ illustrated hardback, finally came out in 1958. Jim sold all 5,000 copies. It was an instructive exercise in self-publishing on the part of the man who since that same year, 1954, has been the Sunday Sun’s book columnist. (Subsequently, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to be the publisher; in 1971, 1979, and 1985, with aid from his sons Richard, Chris and Steve, Jim wrote expanded, updated editions that are also in paperback.) “The Home Team” chronicles Baltimore baseball from its introduction in 1859 to the present: Lord Baltimores, Orioles, Terrapins, Black Sox, Elites; six major leagues and several minors.

“The Home Team” was the first modern book to point out the store-bought nature of the immemorial Kekiongas who, there in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on May 4, 1871, won baseball’s first pro league game ever. Two thirds of the Kekiongas (pitcher Bobby Mathews included) were, underneath, the semipro Maryland Baseball Club. After touring the Middle West, the team had accepted a monetary offer to stay in Fort Wayne as a member of the National Association. But what Jim boasts about, when given the chance, is that 100 years later, 1971, he became the first Marylander to join SABR.


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