When you hear former Yankee infielder Andy Carey tell a story about printing up a fake newspaper on the night of Oct. 7, 1956 with the headline “Larsen Pitches No Hitter” and how he wanted to hang it in Don Larsen’s locker the next morning as a joke but refrained for fear of jinxing the starting pitcher that day, you realize that the National Pastime is chock full of wonderful stories.
The benefit to hearing those stories in the voices of the people directly involved is immeasurable.
That is why the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has worked to preserve hundreds of hours of oral histories in our recorded media collection. It is vitally important that this history of our game be protected not only for the enjoyment and edification of fans today, but for those in the future who will want to study and know more about baseball and its players, managers, umpires, executives and more.
In concert with the preservation of these oral histories in their original form comes the need to create a digital collection of these voices and their stories – so that the Hall of Fame and Museum can preserve them past the “shelf life” of the original tapes and also can make them more widely accessible. It is part of our mission statement to “connect generations” and what better way to do just that than with the stories of the game straight from those involved.
Connecting generations of fans, researchers and students means being able to enhance the museum visitor experience using these stories, whether told through artifacts, documents, photos, video and/or audio. But it also strengthens the educational programs of the Museum while providing material to those that wish to study our history and to those that want to utilize these stories to write books, edit documentaries and more.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has begun to create a digital archive and is adding to it on a daily basis. It’s a formidable undertaking that will continue for years. The Museum has also created an on-line collection where much of the digital archives can be accessed by anyone interested in the history of the game. That collection can be accessed at https://collection.baseballhall.org/PASTIME/online-collection.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will be adding more audio and video content to our collection as we acquire the funding and the digital storage space necessary. There is much already to be accessed in the Oral History collection, including wonderful recordings created for or donated to the Hall of Fame by Rod Roberts, Larry Moffi and others. There are hundreds of hours of recordings yet to be digitized that include the Fay Vincent collection of oral histories, conducted by the former Commissioner of Baseball.
The Museum collection contains interviews with many Hall of Famers, of course, but also players, managers, executives, family members, umpires and more. There are interviews with immortals such as Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Monte Irvin, Roy Campanella, Robin Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige, to name only a few. There are stories told by longtime Yankee Clubhouse man Pete Sheehy and umpires Al Barlick, Emmett Ashford, Shag Crawford. The voices of Buck O’Neil, Tom Seaver, Joe Black, Juan Marichal, Harry Kalas, “Double Duty” Radcliffe, Marty Marion, Vic Powers and Del Crandall are preserved here and will be forever.
And the Museum continues to collect these stories today, interviewing the men and women involved in every aspect of the game as well as gathering the stories of those who have stories to tell. It is our mission. It is our passion, and we take it seriously.
As for Andy Carey’s fear of jinxing Don Larsen with that joke newspaper back on Oct. 8, 1956… well, the way he tells it, he tore up that fake headline and flushed it down the toilet.
The result? Maybe you’ll have to look that up for yourself!
Roger C. Lansing is the recorded media manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.