"If I learned one thing in my travels, it’s that even when a ballpark is gone, sometimes someone puts up some kind of marker so folks will have something to look at to remember what’s gone. A plaque, a sign, a section of wall. This edition of The National Pastime is my marker." So writes editor Cecilia M. Tan in her introduction to the 2022 issue of The National Pastime, featuring 20 articles delving into the history of minor league baseball. In 2020, minor league baseball as we knew it changed drastically with the elimination of 42 teams and "restructuring."
But the minors have always been prone to upheaval and change. This issue of The National Pastime looks at the minors from the nineteenth century through the present and seems to show that the only thing that stays the same in the minor leagues, is that things are always changing. Dennis Snelling brings us the account of a team so short-lived, they not only didn’t play a full season, their team records were lost. We also have not one but two articles about Black ballplayers playing on White minor league teams—something that couldn’t happen in the American or National Leagues at the time—with Alan D. Cohen’s account of Billy Holland in Connecticut in 1906, and Thomas Merrick’s article about a 1932 team that included Wilbur “Bullet” Rogan and other players in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Stories also tread the expected minor-league ground of wacky gate attractions, pranks, and traditions, including a reminiscence of a running joke from the Texas League by Marshall Adesman, the history of Reading’s “Pony Night” (in which a lucky fan went home with a live horse at the end of the game) by Brian C. Engelhardt, Steven M. Glassman recounts Dave Bresnahan’s infamous “hidden potato trick,” and Matthew R.C. Bosen reveals the unique method the Beloit Sky Carp recently used to recruit their newest announcer. The issue even has a smattering of sabermetrics, with a look at park effects by Will Christensen and an examination of minor league Triple Crown winners by Herm Krabbenhoft, among several other articles, including a look back at Rick Wolff’s groundbreaking book What’s a Harvard Boy Like You Doing in the Bushes, the 1948 Duluth Dukes bus crash, and the origins of the player draft in the nineteenth century.