Echoes of Ring Lardner

Harold Seymour

Harold Seymour’s proteges wrote to him when they entered organized baseball to tell their mentor about their exciting experiences, especially their successes, as young professionals. You can tell that these boys gloried in their chance to make it in the bigs. And if you’ve read Ring Lardner’s A Busher’s Letters and You Know Me Al, you’ll be amazed at the similarity between the way these fellows expressed themselves and Lardner’s supposed fiction.
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Coaching Wrestling, Not Baseball

Harold Seymour

History and Wrestling

Before he was able to find a teaching position at the college level, Seymour taught junior high school history in Norwich, New York. He accepted the position with the assurance that he would also be coaching baseball, but when he arrived to start work he learned that the chemistry teacher had been given the baseball position and that he, Seymour, was to coach wrestling-about which he knew nothing! So he enlisted the star wrestler to help him, learned the moves and how to help his boys, coached them and traveled to meets with them, and produced a winning team, popularly called “The Purple Matmen.”
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That Baseball Ph.D.

Harold Seymour

At the time Seymour was about to be awarded his Ph.D. for the first dissertation on the history of American baseball, he was interviewed by the Cleveland News. After all, “The Rise of Major League Baseball to 1891” was a highly unusual title for a doctoral dissertation! News reporter Joe Madigan quoted Seymour as explaining, “No historian has ever deemed the subject worthy of scholarly investigation, despite the fact that baseball is a reflection of the development of American life. Learned men are sometimes very stuffy, you know.”

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Baseball Honors

Harold Seymour

The Casey Award

In 1991 The People’s Game won The Casey Award, given annually by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine. Editor Mike Shannon said it won conclusively over all finalists, including George Will’s Men at Work. Since Seymour didn’t feel up to traveling to accept the award at the Spitball banquet, I arranged to have a local photographer make a videotape of his necessarily-short acceptance speech; by then his health was in steep decline. I prepared his remarks in about five short sentences, writing them in very large type on a card, so that he could read them before the camera. He did so, weakly and ineffectively, but he accomplished the task. The Cooperstown Hall of Fame asked for a copy of this video for its archives, and I sent it.

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