Today I would like to share a unique project with hopes that someone out there in our community will be interested in participating.
A few months ago I was contacted by a gentleman from SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) who was busy compiling a database of all known Civil War baseball sources with the intention of doing some critical data-analysis on the subject. I provided him with transcripts of everything I had, as well as some local NPS archives files, and he was able to stretch his catalog to approximately 150+ primary sources.
This was far more material than was available when the only 2 books on the subject of Civil War baseball (George Kirsch's and Patricia Millen’s studies) were published. Therefore, the potential for doing something meaningful was huge. A majority of these new pieces were quoted from soldier’s personal letters home and post-war recollections. Understandably, most were written by from troops deploying out of the northeast (New York – Massachusetts area).
The gentleman at the head of this project is Larry McCray and he asked if I would be interested in writing a paper (or possibly more) on the subject. As I am fairly busy with my own publishing endeavors, I politely declined, but offered to share the details of his vision here with hopes of soliciting some interest. Larry sent me this overview:
Since we now have about 3 times the number of references that were available as late as 2003, I suggest that someone may want to receive this new data and use it to revise our understanding of the extent and significance of ball playing in the Civil War. I’d rather such a task reside with a CW person than another baseball person, for substantive reasons. My own role, as a military know-nothing, is to summarize the total evidence statistically and to help identify prior conventional wisdom that is inconsistent with the facts we now have. I will be putting this data out, but the timing can be worked out with anyone who wants to use them. My job is to get the data out, not to interpret them.
So: is there a way to gauge interest in your community in doing some such paper? Keep in mind that there are already two books [2001, 2003] on CW baseball, and while they are necessarily fueled with sparse anecdote, I wonder if publishers will see market value in another one. I am happy to provide the source material that I have on the 150 references summarized in a Word document and Excel worksheet.
Additionally, Larry is planning on making the collection available online for others to use in their own research. See Project Protoball: Supporting Research on the Origins of Baseball.
Anyone who thinks they might be interested in exploring this venture, or are aware of someone else who may, please contact Larry via this site.