Not much happens when I visit the basement of Wilson Library. It’s usually quiet except for the occasional student studying by themselves at a desk in a corner. They’re probably trying to focus on some esoteric English Lit assignment or calculate some deep math equation or perhaps snickering to themselves while watching a cat video on YouTube.
I too am quiet but only on the outside. Inside, I’m ecstatic. Because in this below ground enclave there’s baseball – row after row of roll after roll of microfiche that contain the first-hand accounts of Millers and Saints baseball games.
I can barely contain myself most days. Occasionally, I imagine conscripting the nerdy quiet students into a game against the muscular librarians using crumpled up wads of paper for balls and wooden rulers for bats. We’d play on the freshly waxed linoleum floor and use new editions of French philosophy textbooks for bases. But normally there aren’t enough students and librarians in Wilson’s basement to form one team so I typically walk past everyone and head right for the shelves of microfiche.
For those of you who don’t know what microfiche is, the picture accompanying this post shows a roll on a microfiche reader with a page of news print displayed on a computer screen. And before there were computers, to copy a page of news print you used a 35mm still camera. (Wha?? I know!!)
When I started this sports documentary, I knew I was stepping into a research task where there were few if any players, coaches, and managers still around to be interviewed. I feel very lucky to have located and interviewed several people who attended games as kids. So, lacking anyone from the first group and only a few from the second, I knew I needed to dive head first into the wonderful world of microfiche to uncover the Millers and Saints rivalry. I have and it’s been great.
With all of the research I’ve accomplished as of today, I’ve rewritten more than half of the documentary. The time period I’m working on presently is the 1938 pennant race between the Millers and Saints. Besides the pennant race between the teams, there’s a personal race going on between the managers. In ’38 a crafty veteran was managing the Millers and an upstart rookie was managing the Saints. And in a wonderful twist, the veteran had cut the rookie from the Millers three years prior. So now in 1938 they’re on the same field again but facing each other from opposing dugouts. It’s a great story.
Can’t wait until I finish rewriting this 1938 pennant race between the Millers and the Saints.