In his first official act of MLB’s Official Historian, John Thorn will serve as chairperson of the “Baseball Origins Committee”. The purpose, according to mlb.com simply put is to:
“seek to determine the facts of baseball’s beginnings and its evolution. The Committee will compile and evaluate information that pertains to the game’s founding and its growth. Following the study period, the panel will seek to tell the story of baseball’s beginnings and explore not only the game’s broadest origins”.
Fortunately for me, we have one of the members of the committee here on the University of Illinois campus in Dr Adrian Burgos.
Here is the full list of the committee membership:
DAVID BLOCK, an early baseball historian, author of Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
JAMES EDWARD BRUNSON III, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Northern Illinois University and author of The Early Image of Black Baseball: Race and Representation in the Popular Press, 1871-1890.
ADRIAN BURGOS, JR., Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois; author of Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line and Cuban Star: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball; a consultant to Ken Burns’s Baseball: The Tenth Inning; and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
KEN BURNS, award-winning filmmaker of Ken Burns’s Baseball, Ken Burns’s Baseball: The Tenth Inning, The Civil War, Jazz, The War, and many other highly acclaimed documentaries.
LEN COLEMAN, the former President of the National League.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir.
STEVE HIRDT, Executive Vice President of the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of Major League Baseball, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
JANE LEAVY, Former staff writer of the Washington Post; author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy and The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and The End of America’s Childhood; and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
LARRY McCRAY, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who, since 2005, has coordinated "Project Protoball," a record of print references to baseball and parallel bat and ball games prior to 1860, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
GEORGE F. WILL, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator, Washington Post and Newsweek columnist, ABC News analyst and author of Men At Work: The Craft of Baseball.
Part of me is excited of me to find out what this esteemed group will reveal and part of me is wary. I guess I’m concerned because of the inherent nature of an organization discovering its own history.
Will this committee’s findings be public? Or will it be subject to MLB’s spin? Time will tell. In either case, I’ll be interested what comes out of it.