In the past week I have had two requests for assisting with information on the local baseball playing careers of relatives. One was asking if I had information about a grandfather, the other about a father. I am honored that I would be asked.
In both cases, I asked for more information as I always do: full name, date of birth, place of birth and death, any known teams or teammates. Photos or documents are always helpful, especially a birth or death certificate.
Research on subjects such as these is almost impossible without the extra information. With a couple of trips to the library I may be able to find history, perhaps a photo image, but if the family does not hold on to these things the chances are the library or archives do not have them in their newspaper microfilm department.
I am reminded of the time I received an email from a woman who wanted information about her grandfather who had played for the Nashville Vols at Sulphur Dell. I asked for the information I always ask for.
Upon researching the name, I found nothing. Nothing in any roster information, nothing in any book or internet source for Nashville teams, nothing in any of my files. Disappointing people by telling them there is no information for that person is not pleasant in any circumstance.
In this case, the woman told me that it was impossible that her grandfather did not play for Nashville, because at his funeral there was a team photo of the Nashville Vols next to his casket.
Over time the stories sometimes get twisted. For example, there was more than one amateur team in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s that went by the name “Nashville Vols”.
And, if grandpa said he played in Sulphur Dell, we want to assume that he played for the minor league team that called the famous ballpark “home”. That is not always the case, as many amateur teams used Sulphur Dell for regular season and playoff games.
Sometimes we have to realize that some things are lost.
My appeal is this: Research your family history, document your family treasures, ask your relatives questions, and write down your conversations. Finally, scan photos and other documents and archive them in some order.
I am always happy to help, to look through what I have. I keep a list of names and dates for my next visit to the library or internet search. It can be time-consuming, but it is satisfying to assist families in piecing together the baseball history of a loved one. It is not my intention to disappoint anyone, but I do have to be honest if I find little or nothing, or cannot find a connection.
If someone thinks I can help, I really appreciate being asked for assistance. Nothing would please me more than to connect a dot or two.