Friday, January 16, 2015


GOOD news and a wonderful discovery are what's prompting us to dig out of our mid-winter baseball lethargy and fire up another exercise in "blogolalia."

The good news is that Terry Cannon and his minions at the Baseball Reliquary are now ensconced in a permanent home. Later today, at Whittier College, the Institute for Baseball Studies will get the proverbial bottle of champagne cracked over its doorknob and there will be a physical location for those  enamored in the art of baseball history to visit in search of whatever form of baseball enlightenment they profess to seek.

You are all encouraged to visit the Institute's Facebook page and join their community. As you'll see, there's no shortage of content to be found there--and when you arrive at the Institute, you'll find a key resource that automatically makes them into a destination: the papers of peerless baseball historian Paul Dickson.

This is truly the beginning of the next phase in the life of the Baseball Reliquary and its associated activities on behalf of "the art of baseball history."

IN the midst of this, that "wonderful discovery"--a singular blog presence that embodies "the art of baseball history" in ways that parallel--and, perhaps, augment--the work of the Baseball Reliquary.

Artist/designer/historian Gary Cieradkowski, in a humble, unassuming way, has staked a claim as one of the great practitioners of the "art of baseball history" with his Infinite Baseball Card Set. The blog is an ongoing creation of a very unusual, highly eclectic collision of baseball lore and Gary's own immense skill as an artist/poster designer.

Thus far, there are 184 entries in
what could indeed be an infinite baseball card set--where hidden lore and the romance of early baseball (when it was a good bit more liberated from the mass-media manipulation that has come into being over the past half-century) can blissfully coexist.

Cieradkowski combines history and art in a uniquely entertaining way: his love for the lore and for the odd details of individual lives and unusual events is exactly what "the art of baseball history" is all about. He is mining territory similar/adjacent to what "reformed sabermetrician" Craig Wright has been doing so well for many years, but the added dimension here is the visual accompaniment. The cards (and Gary's baseball poster art) all straddle a fine line between referencing baseball's primordial "design sense"--the pre-Art Deco conventions of early twentieth-century commercial photography and his own bold-but-subtle updating of that style, as can be seen in two examples of his poster work.

Hours of entertaining forays into unknown stories, or unusual takes on familiar ones, can be found at the blog. (His most recent entry, tracing the story of the mysterious pitcher who made it safe to be mysterious--Fred Mitchell "Mysterious" Walker--is a full meal disguised as a treat.)

Even though it's criminally old-fashioned to say so, it really ought to be a book--a big, bright book of baseball love that can sustain and console the desolate baseball fan during the winter interregnum.