The National Pastime offers baseball history available nowhere else. Each fall this publication from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) explores baseball history with fresh and often surprising views of past players, teams, and events. Drawn from the research efforts of more than 6,700 SABR members, The National Pastime establishes an accurate, lively, and entertaining historical record of baseball.
A Note from the Editor, John Thorn:
Who are those guys on the cover? The first reader to identify all twelve correctly may skip the rest of this introduction and go directly to page 2, where the real action begins. The rest of you are expected to slog through to the end of the column (you're on the honor system), where the editor has thoughtfully supplied the answers.
Nothing sets the blood of a baseball fan a-racing like The Question of The Hall of Fame, variously cast as: How can they keep Nellie Fox out? How did they let George Kelly in? Can't we forget about the 1919 World Series and give Shoeless Joe his plaque? What if Jim Kaat had been a Yankee? And what about Reggie? And Ryan? And Rizzuto? The debate is endless and too often merely partisan, but it is good for baseball and better for the Hall, whose officials are delighted that there are folks out there writing letters for departed worthies like Tony Mullane and Vic Wilis and Riggs Stephenson. Long-winded letters protesting voting procedures may shed more heat than light, and are surely bothersome to answer, but they too are the bellows that fan the flame of the old hot stove. Besides . . . it's just plan fun to repopulate Coopertown's Hall of Fame according to one's own vision, just as it is to make "paper trades" in the off-season, or predict pennant winners, or debate whether the 1936 Yankees would defeat the 1976 Reds.
Winter is the time for such cracker-barrel wisdom, and in this, the fifth issue of The National Pastime, Bob Carroll dispenses more than his two cents' worth. In a virtuoso performance as writer and artist (of the cover and twelve drawings on pages 16-27), Carroll presents the images and credentials of his deserving dozen, plus an innovative plan for cracking the logjam in the Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans. (The task confronting that group of selectors grows more difficult each year, with their choices remaining limited to two from an ever widening "talent pool.")
Winter is also the time for holiday greetings, and our back cover features a delightful rarity: Babe Ruth's personal Christmas card from 1931. It is a combination of photograph and water color from the editor, who extends to TNP readers the message in the crossed bats in the foreground.
The next issue of TNP will return to the pictorial format first displayed in the summer of 1984; scheduled for spring, it will be a lavish celebration of the games most beautifully photographed period, the dead-ball days of 1901-19. Also slated for 1986 publication is a "regular" TNP, the estimable Baseball Research Journal and a rookie called The SABR Review of Books.
ALL RIGHT—so who are the guys on the cover? Left to right, giant all: (top) Dick Allen, Ron Santo, Richie Ashburn, Bill Mazeroski; (center) Indian Bob Johnson, Ernie Lombardi, Hal Newhouser, Bobby Doerr; (bottom) Bid McPhee, Dickey Pearce, William Hulbert, Bill Dahlen.