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Inside Baseball: Baseball Collections as Data


.>>>Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for joining us for inside baseball, baseball
collections as data. This morning we’re going to
marry a hear a lot about rapid prototyping, designing,
collaboration, a little bit of scrambling, maybe a dash of
magic as well. First I’d like to introduce you to our director
of digital strategy at the library of congress, Kate.
Kate’s going to share a little more about the work that’s
happening here at the library and are delighted to have her
here with us. Thank you.>>Thank you so much, Meghan.
I’m thrilled to be here to open today’s events. I’m the library of congress’s
director of digital strategy. And on behalf of the National
Museum of African-American and culture and JSTOR, I’d like to welcome
everybody. We’re excited to be able to share with you a week’s
worth of very focused work. As you all know, Dr. Hayden has brought a new vision
to the library that will be or user
centered and focused on how we can reach more people and
interact with them on a deeper level. And technology, I think,
is a great enabler of that kind of work. This event highlights
how we can effectively partner with our users and create
prototypes that will make us more effective and efficient.
We’ll be publishing a digital strategy for the Library
of Congress in September. Which will describe our plans for reaching more users with
technology and enabling further access to our materials. To
accomplish that work, we’re going to be on labs and their
ability to try and do things and test our assumptions. One of
the things I love about the culture of labs is our — that
we do things in the open so that while we’re learning, we’re
helping others learn. So we’ve learned so much from JSTOR Labs
here this week. We’re thrilled that they’re here with us.
So that’s a great segue into the past week and
today. It’s been a lively week of looking at collections in new ways,
engaging users inside and outside of our walls, and
flash-building. It’s been a week of shared learning and a week of demonstrating the
power of computational access to collections. We love thinking
about the different ways our collections can be understood
and the power of computation brings up a lot of more
opportunities. Today is going to be a really thrilling day.
We’ve got some wonderful speakers at the head. And we’re
going to get to see some fantastic datasets and
prototypes which will be useful to baseball researchers and data
analysis and hopefully can form a model for other types of
collections. It’s always fun to show what
could be quickly put together when great minds are together.
We’ll be hearing from the National Museum of
African-American History and Culture and JSTOR. And this
afternoon I’m excited to share that we’ll have Clinton Yates,
Rob Ruck and Jordan Ellenberg in a panel discussion.
Okay. As the unofficial empire here, play
ball. [ Applause ] umpire here, play ball.
[ Applause ]>>I’m Jamie. Okay, Yay. So my name is Jamie Mears, and I
work for the LC Labs team that Kate
mentioned. I’m going to talk a little bit — I’m going to try
to frame the day for you, which is a big task because it’s a
little confusing. For those of you who dropped in
for the event today, the biggest point that I want you to know
from the start is that we’ve been working since Monday around the clock to put together
flash-build products to help people research baseball and
discover our collections. And it’s kind of crazy that we did
that. It’s very vulnerable exercise, and it’s been really,
really fun. It’s required all of us to really trust each
other. And so here we go. I’m going to try to help explain why
we did this and why we’re here. So “inside baseball,” this is a
look at “Inside Baseball. ” I wanted to kick off with an
item from the baseball collection. It’s a picture of
an indoor baseball team in Chicago, 1897, I believe, and
it’s considered to be — they’re considered to be the first
softball team that ever existed. They seem more dapper than a lot
of the other baseball pictures I’ve seen so far of people,
maybe playing inside, I don’t know, makes you age
better. This is Inside Baseball to me
when I think about it, which may be scary to some people here. So Inside Baseball underneath is
essentially data, and it’s so much work, but it’s so worth it.
And so hopefully by the end of this presentation, you’ll see why I
love this. So this is a picture of the LC
Labs team. If we were on a baseball card, you know how they
used to do those action shots for teams that were staged.
This is not staged but it’s not very dynamic either. But this would probably be us,
just kind of standing around and problem solving together around
a whiteboard. I wanted to mention that our team got Abby potPotter here, me and
Meghan Ferriter who introduced the day. Not featured here is
half of our team. We just expanded to three more
people, and they have joined us because we are launching a crowdsourcing
transcription and tagging application that’s going to
launch in the fall. So if you — if this talk makes you
interested in data at all and you want to take a hand in it,
then that opportunity is going to happen quite soon.
Okay. So I wanted to talk a little
about our goals because they feed directly into why we did this event this week.
It’s difficult for me — so the first one is enable
transformational experiences by connecting users with the
library and its digital collections. So some people —
people ask us all the time, how do you measure
impact? And the way that we think about it is if you see a photograph, for
example, whether it’s a dataset or a single item and it
transforms the way that you think about American History and
Culture, then we’ve done our job. So that was partly the
impetus for the flash-build this week.
And then our second big goal is to prototype ideas
and build relationships with stakeholders that will realize
the library’s digital strategy. So you heard from Kate earlier. We’re launching a digital
strategy, a new digital strategy, and its
labs’ job to pie plot some of those ideas in small, safe ways
to see whether or not they work for the Library of Congress’s
environment. And then the last goal is to
strengthen our community by sharing our work for
transparency, feedback and knowledge exchange. So that’s
what we’re doing now in a very ex-treme sense because
we’re going to demo something for you live that no one has
ever seen before. So another important point of this whole
week is that we spent a lot of time documenting all of the
exercises we went through through the flash-build, all of
the decisions we made around data transformation. And that’s
something that’s a little scary to do out in the open. But we
feel it’s really important because we all learn from each
other. So hopefully by the end of the
day, there will be a link that we’re going to share through
social media, et cetera, pointing you to where all our
documentation is so that you can take this back to your own
cultural institutions or anywhere you work to think about
how you can incorporate user-centered design into what
you do. Okay. And labsllc.gov is our home, if
you want to follow us, you can sign up for our listserv. But
essentially, this is the main place to find, you know,
information about us and the prototype that we’re going to
demo is going to live here in our experiments page.
Okay. So LC Labs. Who are we? Where did we come
from? Two years ago, a little over two years ago now, we were
formed. And we hosted an event called
Collections of Data, and we’ve actually done that two years
running. In the point of collections of data was an all-day symposium talking
about what does it mean to use data
and cultural heritage institutions to get the public
to use it, what types of possibilities are there for
thinking about how to interact with collections online in
different ways. And the first two years, the symposiums were
very talky, just like I’m doing now. You know, it was a lot of
experts coming together to discuss these really important
issues. But we wanted to do this year take a spin-off of
collections of data and actually just build something. So that’s kind of the — I would
say in some ways this is an unofficial third year of
collections of data, but we’re taking all the lessons we
learned and actually incorporating them into the way
that we work. So what do I mean by collections
of data? This is an example here of a
tutorial of how to use our API if you were investigating our
baseball collections which we have many of. So one of the
things that we know is that people are aware perhaps of what
an API is. It’s the underlayer of information that’s underneath
a website that you can make calls to. But there’s some
intimidation of what it means or how it could possibly be useful
to someone who happens to stumble upon our lab site. So
we’ve done a lot of work on our site on a page called LC for
robots of tu fortorials for you to
investigate our collections through the data itself. And I
encourage you to look at that if you get inspired by this event.
This is another example of collections of data. This is an example of a product
that was built by our innovator in residence. So this is the
program that we started, and our current innovator in residence is the data artist
here Thorpe. And the idea behind it is to try to inspire
people to think about collections and how to form them
serendipitously in innovative ways. And underlying that is
data. So this example is the library of color. And what
you’re seeing right now is an example of a visual collection
where he took information from every
single record from prints and
photographs and essentially compared this to —
took words that you could extrapolate to color and then
visualized those colors into a rainbow. And this is a
screenshot. But if you were to use the
strap- drop-down and look at our collection visualized in color,
you’d essentially see blue and black because it turns out a lot
of titles of books tend to represent darkness or the ocean
or something like that. So you can actually, I think,
intuitively work your way through the collections and start to
extrapolate some theories around formats and
titles, plus it’s just beautiful, which is also fun and
valid in its own right. This is another take on
exploring the library by color. This is an experiment that
exists on our experiments page that was made by Laura Rubel who was a software
librarian residence with us at LC Labs. What you’re seeing is
one of our photograph collections extrapolated into
color palettes so each of these swatches of color represents one
item. And if you were to click on it, you’d jump back to our
lc.gov collection and be able to explore that item. And she did
visualize the baseball card collection. So if you’re
curious about seeing that, I would suggest you go
onto our experiments site and look at the baseball one because
it’s incredibly beautiful and colorful. Okay. So I’ve talked a little bit
about how we’ve had people come to the library to work with us
to experiment with our collections and our data in new
ways to get the public interested. This was a different angle of
trying to do that. We essentially wanted a wide swath
of people to create. And so we hosted a challenge called the
congressional data challenge. And the point of it was to get
people to produce some type of application or tool with legislative data on
congress.above.gov. We had two winners. We had 17 entries.
They were all pretty stellar. And these two high schoolers,
Allen Gomez Tagle and Carter Neilsen
who will be here next week to get an award in person won the
first place prize. So we ended up having our first
and second place winners being high school students out of all
17, which was amazing and also made us really hopeful that the
future is looking bright, that there are people who are really interested in taking our
collections and creating things out of them in a way that’s very
active, and that’s definitely what we want to see.
So you can look at all the other apps through
challenge.gov. There’s 12 that were submitted publicly. Carter
and Allen’s is up there, the U.S. treaties explorer, but
there’s a bunch of other ones. So if you are interested in the
data, I encourage you to take a look. Okay. So where we’re going,
what does this have to do with this week? So collections of
data essentially doing it instead of just talking about
it, we were really inspired by the baseball Americana
collection because baseball has a lot of stuff. There’s a lot
of data. It’s also a topic that has a
very wide reach. And so we thought it would be a way to get
enthusiasts and members of the general public thinking about
what we’re obsessed with, which is data. So JSTOR Labs approached us,
wanted to play ball with us, wanted to do something. And,
you know, we thought, oh, why don’t we do something around
baseball collections. That’s something that we could
definitely do together. So we essentially are being led
by JSTOR through this effort this week. They are
facilitating us through the first data jam that we did as a
team, through the first flash-build we did as a team.
But we’re also competing with each other because we’re both
going to demo our own tools that we’ve been working on
separately. Let’s just be real. It’s what’s happening. And so it’s been really
fantastic to learn from them. This is not their first rodeo.
They’ve done this with a bunch of other cultural heritage
institutions and it’s really been fantastic.
Another partner — or collaborator of ours this week
is the National Museum of African-American History and
Culture. So although they haven’t been with us kind of
sweating it out over keyboards for the past four days, they’ve
been working with us for the past several months to essentially combine
some of their baseball digital collections with the library ofLibrary of
Congress’. Not to give too much away, but the demo that the team
worked on this week is going to let you kind of seamlessly view
National Museum of African-American History and Culture baseball
items with Library of Congress items, so it’s really, really
special. And that is what you see here. So this is an exercise in love
because when you’re talking about bringing data together,
it’s really a negotiation of, you know, what is valuable to
you in your institution and how you show your collections. So
this is, I think, one of the best resources that’s going to
come out of this event. This was the data jam that we
did. And the whole purpose of this slide is essentially to say
that there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that worked on
this. We had curators from our
photographs and prints division. We had baseball researchers.
And then, of course, our LC labs team and JSTOR. It was a full
house of people trying to figure out how to build things that
would get researchers interested.
They don’t know I put this slide in. Another thing
that was really wonderful about this is that the LC labs team
got to work hand in hand with Chris addAdams and a designer. And we
got to build this tool together which usually doesn’t happen.
We kind of, you know, work in silos and a project gets passed
around. But it was awesome to see everyone’s expertise play
out in realtime. So this is Griff drawing a very
small preview of what you’re going to see later wire frame of
our application that we built. So hopefully that set the stage
a little bit. I wanted to make sure everyone was aware in how
much work has gone into the work. For LC Labs, if you’re
interested in any of the experiments that I shared with
you or you want more information about the congressional data
challenge or other challenges that might be coming up, you can e-mail us at
[email protected] gov, follow us on Twitter
@LClabs, follow us on our listserv or go to our website.
Okay. So that’s it for me. So now I’m going to pass it off to
a collaborator that I just mentioned, the National Museum
of African-American History and Culture’s museum
specialist, Courtney Belize and Emily Hough. [ Applause ] >>Good morning. I’m Emily, and
this is Courtney. And we’re part of the
digitization team at the museum of
African-American History and Culture. Our team catalogs the
museum’s objects, digitizes them and helps make the collection
information accessible and discoverable for both users
inside the museum and outside the
museum. And today we’re going to talk to you a little bit about the objects
that we featured in this dataset for this project and how we
cataloged them and walk through the data points together.
The goal of the museum is to present American
history through an African-American lens and what
is more American than baseball? Although we knew the sport of
baseball plays a significant role in the exhibition sports
leveling the playing field, and we’re familiar with some of our
baseball objects, we hadn’t really ever done a deep dive into the
— our baseball-related holdings until we did this project. Once
we pulled the data together and began looking at the various
subjects and object types that connect with the term baseball,
we were not surprised to see that America’s favorite sport
appears all the way through our collection from Jim Crow’s
segregation in Mississippi to the early days of hip-hop in New
York City. Looking at the numbers within
the dataset, we have baseball objects from 22 states including — and
the district of ColumbiaDistrict of Columbia, 16% of our objects
are from New York city 1/, and 8% of our
baseball-related objects also have stories to tell about the
American South. If we compare types of objects,
8% are items of clothing like jerseys
and hats. 30% are part of the class of objects we call memorabilia and, things
like tickets, programs, pennants,
pin-back buttons and autographs. The most well-represented class
of objects are photographs and images, making up 44% of the
dataset. Analyzing the subject terms
connected to baseball, a remarkable 34% of our collection — baseball
collection, have stories related to segregation like this 1920s Wolf
sweater for the Eastern Colored League. And 4% of our objects are
related to musicians such as this Texas Rangers uniform worn by Charlie Pride.
Before he became one of country music’s most successful artists
ever, Pride was a baseball player. He was a pitcher for
the Memphis Red Sox and other Negro league teams before he
ever kissed an angel good morning. Pride is now part
owner of the Texas Rangers and at 84 years old, still trains
with them every spring. We’re able to connect
baseball across various collections and subject areas
because we’re committed to consistent cataloging throughout
our collection using the same
standards, vocabularies and approach regardless of
department. This allows us to tie together
thematics reds that appear throughout the collection.
Things like identity, resistance, connection and joy.
Starting with baseball, we can follow the data points through
the three pillars of history, community and culture that form
the collection.>>Good morning. We’re going to
start with our history collections. And since it’s
all-star week, it’s only appropriate to start with a collection object that harkens
back to the beginning. This pennant from about 1933
celebrates the Negro league’s east/west all-star game. The Negro leagues established in
1885 gave African-American ballplayers who were not
accepted to play in other major and minor leagues a chance to
play professionally. The east/west all-star game
began in 1933, the same year that the MLB all-star game was
established. The game was generated to start
as a way for the owners to generate
money essentially. But the game became so much more. It was a
way to help legitimize the Negro league teams and the
African-American professional baseball players. The game was
the sporting event for African-Americans. Celebrities like Count Bessie,
Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Louis and Lena
Horne threw out the first pitch of the first all-star game.
Though they were celebrated, they still stood as a stark
reminder that professional baseball, like many aspects of
American society, was segregated. When we look at the
data points, the term segregation is used to convey
this very important aspect of history. The term also links us
to our next object, a poster about the integration of the
Detroit Tigers. Nicely and seamlessly done. In 1947, Jackie Robinson steps
onto the field to play for the brook
LingBrooklyn dodgers. In 1958 the Detroit Tigers were the
second to last team to integrate. When Ozzy Virgil Sr.
joined the team. He was born in the Dominican republic and was
the first person of African descent to join the Tigers and
was also the first Dominican to play in MLB. On June 6th, 1958, Virgil went 5
for 5 in his debut with the Tigers. And despite occurring
more than ten years after Robinson’s first game, the integration of the Tigers was
still met with protest from staunch segregationists
including Detroit city council member Billy Regell. He was
also a former shortstop for the Tigers. He opposed Virgil’s point
appointment to the team. This poster sends a clear message
about his policies and beliefs and gives us a glimpse into race
relations in the city of Detroit in 1958. As you can see,
several subjects have been attributed to this object
including segregation, civil rights and race relations.
Using the term race relations, we can move to our next related be on
object type, a magazine from 1960 featuring notable
African-American athletes. As professional sports became
integrated, African-American athletes soon became household
names. Though African-American athletes became mainstream, they
were still viewed as other. As evidenced by this issue of
sportSport magazine. The title is “sports: Special issue.”
The Negro in American sports. And it still conveys this idea
that African-American athletes needed to be looked at
separately from their white counterparts. The term race
relations was used for this object because sports magazine
was founded in 1946 and was one of the first national sports
publications and serves as an example of how African-American athlete s ‘as’ achievemented
were covered. It included wilt Chamberlain, Willie Mays, Gibson
and Jackie Robinson. From a data perspective, all of these
athletes become subjects of the collection objects so that this
object appears when any of the aforementioned names are
searched. Let us look at the data point
Jackie Robinson to move along to our next dataset.
Our next set of objects focus around NMHC’s collection theme
of community. Using the subject term Jackie Robinson in a search
of our internal databases brings up a variety of objects
including a ring, magazines and photographs. The collection
objects span different aspects of Robinson’s career not only as
a baseball player but as a family man and activist who
impacted both baseball and African-American communities.
For instance, let’s take a look at this photograph
from 1954 of Jackie Robinson and Harry Owens. Here Robinson is
out of uniform, receiving a lifetime membership award to the
Irene Kaufman settlement house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for
his charity work. The photograph was taken by a community photographer named
Charles Harris. Harris was had a connection to
baseball, actually, because he helped found and was a player for the
Crawford Colored Giants who later became the Pittsburgh
Crawfords. There’s another little baseball connection in
there. But Harris was known as one shot, not in a reference to
his baseball career, but in reference to his photography.
He was — his photography mainly focused on the Hill District,
which is an African-American community in Pittsburgh, and his
more than 80,000 images provide one of the most complete
documentations of a minority community in the United States.
When cataloging this photograph, it’s important that
the data not only leads ss researchers to
Jackie Robinson but also to Teenie Harris, the notable
community photographer. Using another data point from this object, the date, 1954, it will
lead us to another photograph taken by another community photographer, Ernest
C. Withers. Around 1954, Withers took this
portrait of Connie Morgan. Withers documented
African-American communities in the segregated
South for 60 years. Morgan was the third woman to play
professional baseball in the Negro league. She joined the
Indianapolis crowns in 1954 as a second baseman and was replaced the first woman who
joined the league, Tony stoneStone. Many
saw women having join the teams as a gimmick increased sales
after integration with MLB, many journalists who every coed the
leagues often wrote about the women’s skill and talent as
players. For example, an article covering
the Clowns’ game on May 29th, 1954,
featured in the Afro-American, quote,
Morgan electrified over 6,000 fans when she went far to her
right to make a sensational stop, flipped to
stop shortstop and started a lightning double play against
Birmingham. End quote. The great double play excited this
large community of fans. And what we found that’s so
prevalent throughout our museum’s baseball collections is
the tie to community. This time let us turn to the object type portraits to see how this
portrait of Morgan can link us to another object reflecting
community within the museum’s collections.>>The object type portraits
brings us to the collection of the photographer the reverend
Henry C. Anderson. Anderson was the local portrait photographer in Greenville,
Mississippi, from 1947 through the 1970s. Nearly every member
of the black community of Greenville had their portrait
taken by Anderson at one point or another. Anderson documented all aspects
of Greenville’s family and community life during Jim Crow
segregation including new babies, birthdays, weddings,
anniversaries, graduations, church groups, community clubs
and, of course, the Little League teams like this one here. So we’ve just seen how our
subject terms can take us through several community
photographers. But if we use the classification
media arts photography where all of our photographs and images
are grouped under, we can expand and find
the collection of hip-hop photography where perhaps
surprisingly we also find baseball. This leads us to the culture
section of our objects. In this photograph of KRS1 taken
by Al Pereira in 1991, the rapper
sports the iconic pinstripes of the New York Yankees. KRS1 is an influential emcee
from the South Bronx. He started his career as part of
the duo Boogie Down Productions
before going solo after the shooting death of his partner,
DJ Scott la rock. And being from the South Bronx,
KRS1’s affinity for Yankees gear signifies his ties to the
birthplace of hip-hop. Using athleticwear and baseball teams
in particular in this way is a common style for hip-hop stars like
KRS1. And if we follow the term hip-hop, we’ll see another
example. This is perhaps the supreme
example of the intersections of baseball, music and fashion, the
iconic baseball cap. I learned recently, yesterday,
that baseball historians credit Tom
Selleck with popularizing the off-the-field baseball cap trend
in the 1970s. But I think we can all agree that hip-hop is largely responsible
for the longevity of the trend. This purple Atlanta Braves cap
from the rapper bigBig Boi was made
by the preeminent manufacturer of baseball caps newNew Era Cap Company which has
been making caps since 1920. This particular hat was a
limited release in 2013 in conjunction
with Big Boi’s solo album, vicious lies and dangerous
rumors. In early June 2013, fans who
attended a CD signing by Big Boi at the
New Era store in Atlanta also received this limited-edition
hat inspired by the album. Big Boi and Outkast is known as
the group that brought southern hip-hop into the mainstream and Big Boi is
seldom seen without his signature
Braves cap to rep his hometown of Atlanta. This hat has the
subclassification clothing fashion. But if we follow the
main class clothing or the subject term clothing and dress,
we end up back in the traditional world of baseball
with This Cardinals jersey that was game
born by Curt Flood in ’66. He was an all-star player and a
center fielder for The Cardinals, he won Gold Glove seven consecutive seasons
from 1963 to 1969. And during Flood’s 11 seasons on the team, the Cards won three
pennants and earned two World Series rings. When Flood
refused to accept a trade away from The Cardinals in 1969,
his talents to the reserve clause helped usher in the free
agency system which was transformative for the
culture of baseball. Flood wrote a letter to the baseball
commissioner reading, “after 12 years in the major leagues, I do not feel
I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of
my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that
result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent
with the laws of the United States and of the several
states. ” Flood’s subsequent lawsuit
against majorMajor League Baseball was unsuccessfully
argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1972 which sided with
the league. But it eventually led to the end
of the reserve system a few years
later. 26 years later with the Kurt
Curt Flood Act congress declared baseball subject to antitrust
laws like any other corporation. Flood is also responsible for
the 10-5 rule which is also known as the Curt Flood rule that states when a
player has played for a team for five straight years and played
in the major leagues for a total of ten years, they have to give
the club their consent to be traded. Although Flood’s legacy is
larger than the time he spent playing with
The card the Cardinals, our final object,
many roundtree radio. Roundtree was a diehard fan
living in Gibson County, Indiana. Her husband, Herman, bought her
this radio to listen to the games and keep up with her
favorite team. The story is a favorite of mine because she
reminds me of my own grandmother who at 94 years old never misses
a Cardinals game.>>Well, thanks for taking the
little journey through our collections. And it’s just a
small sample of the collections that we shared for
the event with LLC. As this graphic shows, by following a
variety of data points, we’ve been able to share and explore
this group of baseball-related collections from the Negro
leagues to hip-hop. We were able to connect each object
based on a set of terms, classifications and cataloging
fields. However, we could have utilized a totally different set
of terms and data points to come up with a totally different set
of objects. That’s the exciting part about our collaboration with LLC and JSTOR
and the flash-build team who have taken a deep dive into our
data. What is important is that the data is consistent and
clean. And so that way people can utilize it in ways that we
can’t even imagine. On behalf of Emily and myself, we would like to thank our
digitizeation team, the catalogers who painstakingly
make sure our records are accurate and consistent, the
curators who review all of our records, Doug, Laura,
Elaine and Damian, sports curator, for their support on
this project. The team at Library of Congress, especially Julia hick Hickey,
and the team at JSTOR and, again, the flash-build team who
worked all this week and participated in this great
event. Thank you for having us, and I hope you enjoy the rest of
your day. [ Applause ] >>All right. Thanks so much to
the team. Next we have Alex Humphries from
JSTOR Labs who’s going to come up and
share about what their wonderful team is and what they’ve been up
to. And you’ll see the first demo, hopefully. [ Laughter ] >>I don’t get to see the
presentation. Or I do from a very strange vantage point. Hi,
everybody. I’m Alec Humphries. I’m the director of JSTOR Labs . And I want to start just by
thanking the Library of Congress for being such amazing hosts and going on this
very quick adventure with us. A lot
of things happen in a week, and they have been so supportive and
eager and at every step along the way just wanted to jump in
with both feet and do. And we find in our team that learning
by doing is just the best possible way. And we’ll share,
as we go, some of the things that we’ve learned.
So first, a little bit of context just for those of
you who aren’t familiar with JSTOR or the JSTOR
Labs team. JSTOR is a part of a nonprofit
called Ithaca which helps the academic community embrace digital
transformation. We have a number of different
brands within it, dealing with digital preservation, with art and
strategy and research. JSTOR is a digital archive of
academic literature primarily. So it’s got 10 million articles
and tens of thousands of academic
books, spanning centuries of the
scholarly record. So these are the academic journals that if
you’re writing, if you’re a scholar or writing your
dissertation, you’re doing that research. And you do that often
these days online with tools like JSTOR. It’s especially
prominent in the humanities and social sciences, and it has a
number of — it’s multidisciplinary. So if you
are anywhere within those fields, you’ll often dip into
JSTOR. There we go. The JSTOR Labs
team is a relatively small team within that
organization. There’s five, six, seven of us. And our job is to build
experimental tools. And we sort of show the future
of what research can look like. We do it — and the best way to
see that is through some examples which I’ll walk you
through in just a second. We approach all of these projects
collaboratively. Wherever possible we work with partners
like the Library of Congress here. And we do so openly. So
we share all the work that we develop. We share the code if we can, the
content wherever copyright allows and make that as open as
possible. And we also do it as quickly as
possible all the way down to doing things in one week. So I
think it will be helpful just to get a feel for that to see a few
of the things that we’ve done in the past. These are a little
bit more polished than what you’ll see at the end. But they’ll give you a feel for
what we’ve done. So if we can jump to the
browser, that would be wonderful. There we go.
Okay. So the first project was — we did this just across the street at
the Shakespeare library, developed maybe a couple years
ago. And this is
understandingUnderstanding Shakespeare. So if you’re
studying Shakespeare, it has all of the plays of Shakespeare, and
I’ll go ahead and click on any one. It has all of the plays of
Shakespeare and all of their cast. And what we were trying
to do is find a new way for those people studying and
writing about Shakespeare to research that work. So you’ll see this is the text
of Hamlet. The foal library has these
amazing digital addition editions of
Shakespeare which are openly available. When we approach
these projects, they’re not sort of transactional. They’re not
— they’re very open and collaborative. And I describe them often as
play dates. You have your toys and I have my toys and let’s go
play in that sandbox. And their toys were these digital editions
of Shakespeare. So if you see, the play on the left, and that’s
from Folger. If you click on one of these
numbers, each one of those is the number of articles in JSTOR
that quote that specific line. And we have that for every line
of every play of Shakespeare. And then if you hover over any
of those, you can — any of the thumbnails, you can see how it
quotes that article, quotes that particular line. And if you’re
a student, it can help you interpret it. If you’re a
scholar, you can see how that line has been interpreted
through the ages. And if you’ve got a digital
humanities bent, you can — we have an API for this so that you can build
visualizations on the how Shakespeare has been studied and quoted through two centuries
of academic literature. So this was — we released a
couple years ago. This is the kind of tool that we build.
This has had a really great response. It’s now being
included in sill buy. Teachers often tell us that this is a really great way for students to
first dive into academic literature which can be really daunting and hard with
keyword search. It can be — they’re used to Google and going
to the library. And this is a very easy way to get into that. We’re now just, to tease
something, we’re currently, who working on
an expansion called Understanding Great Works which
we hope to go live later this summer, which will be this
same functionality but for more than Shakespeare. It will include the kingKing
James Bible as well as a selection of
British literature that we’re working on with the studies in
English literature journal. So we’re really excited about that.
And if you’re interested, follow JSTOR Labs, follow me on
Twitter, and we’ll let you know. Or JSTOR.
So that’s one tool. We built the core of this
functionality in a previous labs week. And then we spent a lot
of time making it look prettier and be a little bit more perfect
and adding the rest of the plays. So let’s jump to another
example of something that we’ve done. Text analyzer. As I said, academic research can
be daunting and challenging. And in various ways. And text analyzer, we envisioned
as a different way of doing research to overcome some of the
hurdles. So text analyzer — so for those of you who aren’t
familiar with it, academic research is often done through either citation mining, meaning
you follow bibliography one to the next to the next or by
keyword search like you would do in Google but in an academic database or in something called
Google Scholar. But those keywords and all of that can be
challenging to a new student. And if you’re doing the citation
mining, you can get stuck in a particular — in a silo. So
what text analyzer does is it changes that by instead of
searching with words, you search with a document. So if you’ve
either found an article that is already perfect and about what
you’re writing about, or if you’ve written the first draft
of your paper, you can upload it. So if we can drag the
sample document over, you just drag and drop it over. And what
it does is it reads the document, and it figures out
what the document is about. And it does that not just by looking
at the words but the implied words. It uses a technology
called natural language processing and topic models to figure out the implied words in
addition to the explicitly mentioned ones. It calls
attention to those, tells you what it found, suggests another selection of them in case
there’s some that are really important to you, and then gives you articles and
JSTOR articles and book chapters in JSTOR that are about the same
materials. You can then, you know, adjust the — we call it
the equalizer at the top, which is a metaphor that probably
nobody gets anymore. [ Laughter ]
You can add new terms. And then when you find the articles you
want, you can download this. This just won an award a couple
weeks ago, which we’re really proud about, proud of. And this
is available right on the JSTOR site. All these tools that we
build are openly available. The access to the JSTOR
Scholarship, that will often come through your institution. But if you’re not a member of a university or a library, much of
that content is available for free. Some of it with
registration. Some of it is pure open access.
Okay. That was the other example of something we’ve
done before. Let’s get to the fun stuff of what we actually
did this week. So if we can go back to the PowerPoint. Great. We showed you that. We
showed you that. All right. So first of all, we wanted to
build — we knew that we wanted to build a tool about baseball.
And what I’ll do is I’ll walk you through the process, sort of
the story of this project. It’s the story that we’ve been
leading the Library of Congress team through this week and sort of enjoying
that process with them. I will say every time we do
this, it’s different. We’re learning all the time and trying
new experiments. This is the first time we’ve done sort of the parallel play of two
teams working evidently in competition. Here I thought it
was like the all-star game where it didn’t matter, and it turns
out it’s like the all-star game where it totally matters.
[ Laughter ] But that’s okay. We’re up for
that. We’re up for the battle. So let me walk you through this
process. This process — we talked about it, I should say,
as something that happens all in one week. It’s true. A lot of
work goes on in that week. But you can’t — I mean, you run
a marathon of all in one, you
know, for me, five-hour period. But there’s a lot of work to
prepare for these weeks. So I don’t want to minimize all of
that preparatory work. That’s really important and it helps us
to run fast these weeks. So I’ll walk through those — that
process a little bit. And then we’ll show you what we came up
with at the other end. Okay. So I mentioned earlier
when describing the Folger — understanding
Shakespeare project that we treat these
projects kind of like play dates. And we just decide what
is the sandbox. When we talked to the Library of
Congress team, they suggested organizing this around the
baseball Americana exhibit because baseball had so
much interest generally. It was multidisciplinary. And there could be a lot of
interest and multidisciplinary in a way
that aligns well with J JSTOR’s
collection. It’s really exciting. And I will say
personally I’m such a baseball nerd. I’m so happy that we
could do this. There was no way that we were not doing this as
soon as it was suggested. This has been so much fun, especially
to meet some of my favorite baseball writers through this
process. So we knew we wanted to work
with baseball. But what exactly were we going to do with
baseball? We wanted a little bit more definition. And because the Library of
Congress team had their content and JSTOR had our content, and
they’re not exactly the same. They’re quite different. And
then when you bring in the Smithsonian, the National Museum
of African-American History and Culture, their content, we were
really interested in finding ways to bring all of that
content together to tell a story and really make it sing. And so
we were interested in trying to do that using linked open data,
which I won’t get into the technology of because I’d
probably mess that up. But linked-open data is also
called the smart web. It’s more than just links, but it knows
about the information. And we’ve been working through that with Wikidata to enable that.
So I’ll show you a little bit about what comes from that. So the idea here was multiple
corpora, multiple collections of content and using linked open
data to connect them. That’s what we wanted to find a way to
do. I’ll tell you a little bit about
the content in JSTOR and how we went about collecting that data.
We’ll probably publish some blogs or something that get into
this in more detail. But just so you have the context for that, we started with — by
selecting a set of content in JSTOR that is about baseball.
We did that using a topic model similar to what powers text
analyzer that you saw. It looked at all of the words
within every article to find out the
likelihood that an article is about baseball, even if the word
is not used. And we’ve ended up coming up with about 25,000 articles through
the centuries of content in JSTOR,
articles and chapters that were about baseball.
We then used some, again, natural language
processing to pull out the people and places and
organizations from those articles. So that we could connect it into
the other — to the other collections. We then used Wikidata to limit
those people, places and organizations to those related
to baseball. Not all of the people in every article was a
baseball person. We wanted to keep it focused on really do a
deep dive on baseball. And that allowed us to krael what’s
called create what’s called a knowledge graph. And then we
were able to plug into that knowledge graph the material
from Library of Congress and
Smithsonian and also some material — some additional data that’s
in Wikidata. And that’s as geeky as we’ll
get. At least that kind of geeky. There’s so many kinds of
geeky that we embrace. That’s the preparation on the
technology side, but that’s not all that we do in preparation
for these weeks. If we’re building a tool for
baseball researchers, people studying baseball, we have some
theories about what might be helpful. We know how people
research generally. But we don’t know the exact issues
facing baseball researchers. And so we solve that problem by
talking to them. We did, I think, seven
interviews with baseball researchers of all sorts. I
talked to my favorite sports journalist in the world. We talked to Joe Poznanski, he’s
awesome. We talked to historians of baseball, cultural
studies people. We talked to students and
scholars. And in doing that, we tried to understand what are
their challenges? What are the things that they have to
overcome that’s specific to baseball? We had to understand
their goals and their practices so that we could help them
achieve their goals a little faster or overcome one of the
hurdles. And so some examples — and this, I should say, this Joe Perlman is
not a real person. This is the embodiment of those seven. We sort of chewed them up,
wrapped them up and put them into one personification, and
it’s Joe. Who’s a fine guy. So, for example, everybody we
talk to that talks baseball, history-related classes said
that on the first day of class, they had to overcome the fact
and tell their students that this class is not about last
night’s game. It’s not about how Bryce Harper
is really stinking this year. It’s about looking at America
and the story of America, race relations
and labor relations and capitalism and all of these
wonderful story — and hopes and dreams, but it’s looking at the
story of America through baseball. And the walk-through
that we just got of the National Museum of African-American
History and Culture was such a great embodiment of that story.
It was really wonderful. And all of these people that we
talked to got as excited about those stories and wanting to be
able to tell them either through their books or their lectures,
we wanted to find ways to make it even easier for them to do
so. So that was the work we did over
the past couple months, leading up to Monday. When we all came down here. And the first thing we did on
Monday was — I think Jamie had a picture of this as well — was lead a
design jam. And these are called a few different things.
Sometimes called design jams. I’ve called them idea jams.
Design studio sometimes. They’re various ways — it’s a
structured brainstorming technique. And there’s a few different
steps that you go through. And the first one is the one you see here on theseThese Post-it notes
that Jessica — who’s awesome and in the back — is ably
leading. And it’s a way to highlight and
bring together all of that research on users and baseball
researchers that we had done, sort of brainstorming what are
their big goals? What are the tasks that they need to try to
achieve? What are the hurdles? Because those can spark ideas
for what we can do to make — to help them. From there, this was all — this
design jam was a couple hours. It was a quick brainstorming
session. We did something called an 8×8,
which is what you see here. You see pages and pages of
pieces of paper with 8 squares. And everybody in the room worked
silently, had eight minutes to draw eight different ideas.
They then presented their ideas to the entire room. And we did
it again, sharing those ideas. And it’s a really wonderful way
to very quickly come up with lots
of ideas. And these were all based on and responding to the
empathy map. They build on it, helping each one would help a
user achieve their goals or overcome a hurdle. And some of the ideas aren’t
fully formed. None of them are fully formed. Some of them are
more fully formed, but they help each other, and it’s a very
generative approach to brainstorming.
We then ended the design jam by dot voting.
Everybody had three dots, could choose the things that were most
exciting, and that gave us a heat map of the ideas that were
most exciting. From there — so we ended that
with five or six general ideas that
we were excited to explore. But we needed to have a way to
choose between those. And one of the Hallmarks and one of the
important parts of these labs weeks is it’s focused effort, but it’s
iterative effort even within the week. It’s not just one week of
work. We’ve had baseball researchers coming in to pretty
much every day this week. And at each step, we’d be showing
baseball researchers our works in progress. Where we are so
far. And using their feedback to help us make decisions. So at this point, we had — we
created a set of paper prototypes. And you saw a
picture in Jamie’s presentation of Grif doing this
on the LC team. Paper prototypes of different ways that we could go about using
linked-open data, to help baseball
researchers do this. There’s a map. There was a chrome filter that
gave us a baseball lens when you’re reading about anything.
And then there’s this idea called cultural history baseball
cards. And that’s the one that we ended up running with. So then the rest of the week —
so by Tuesday, we knew what we wanted to build. It might have
even been Monday afternoon. So then it was about rapidly
refining and making — turning that idea into a thing that actually exists in
the world. So this — so I’ll show you quickly what that
evolution looked like. And then we’ll get to the actual
site. So this was the design jam sketch. You can see it’s pretty unclear
what it is. It’s very sketchy. There’s a little bit of a flow
there. And sometimes with these, you’ll have multiple
sketches, all talking about the same idea. And we’ll bring
those together. That turned into the paper prototype, which turned into the first
design mock-up which we’d show on screen to users to get
feelings for whether they liked — whether they thought the idea
could be useful, where they were confused, what made sense. At
this point people were getting confused between baseball cards
and like they thought this was a collection of baseball cards. They weren’t seeing the links to
the — to the materials. And there were all sorts of
other problems, too. That’s why we do the research. And that
makes it kind of fun and exciting.
This is a further refinement of the design. And
so now you can see on the baseball card for Jackie
Robinson, the cultural history baseball card, you know, on a
baseball card, if you’re familiar with them, there’s
often physical — there’s the stats. Their batting average,
their E.R.A. , year-by-year on the lower —
on the back of the card. But on the cultural history baseball
cards, you can get that stuff, those baseball stats, at
baseballreference.com or any other wonderful place. Instead
we have stats about their cultural history. So these are links to and stats
about the scholarly articles about Jackie Robinson, the
number of photos or videos or objects that are available in
the different collections. So that’s Library of Congress and
Smithsonian, Wikidata. So it sort of gives a snapshot of how
much information we have. And then you can dive into it.
So with that, I think we should switch over to Chrome
and see where it is. See what it looks like. This is the — there we go. Quick, you know, caveat. This
is a week of work. So what you’re going to see is
definitely a work in progress. There will be parts that look
great. There will be some parts that are a little bit buggy
still. And you get to do that when it’s
only a week. We’re trying to focus enough to give an idea of
what this actually is. So what we have is the cultural
history baseball cards brought to you by the JSTOR Labs team.
And the idea is that you can pick a player or historical
figure, see their cultural history card, and then browse
through the primary and secondary resources about them. These are organized right now by
the number of articles in JSTOR about each of these. And what’s
fun about this — and if you even show the next 25 or
whatever — it’s first of all, it’s not just players. You have Branch Rickey, billBill
James, Marvin Miller. This is not just the players of
baseball. This is the history of baseball sort of told here,
which is really exciting. We envisioned before we go live,
we’ll have more than just the article — number of articles on
this home page. It will include the number of videos and images
that we have as well. Then when you click through to
an individual file, who do we have? Hammering Hank. We have
the baseball card that has the data of number of articles and
images and videos if we have them, physical objects. We’re
sort of still working on the classifications and how we map
those to the library’s and Smithsonian’s
classifications. So those are at the top. And then you can
browse through. You can see all of the articles right there,
click through them to get access to them on JSTOR. Or if you want to look at the
images, it brings together the different images from all the
sources. You can browse through those images and then get access
to those images where they’re available, the high-resolution
image, perhaps, that’s on the museum’s site or the library’s
site. Then there are some printed materials here as well. And I’d just encourage — I mean
— so there’s a lot of exploring that you can do. All organized
around people. When we talked to the
researchers and one of the things that led to this was a
lot of them did want people. They were interested in how to
connect the different — the materials
related to each person. They would say that, you know, I
know I’m doing research — I’m telling this particular story,
and I don’t know if this archive, you know, is available
at the Hall of Fame. Is it available here? So if I could
have a way to connect those and bring those together, it could
be valuable. They also described that when they first
start their research, they start with the secondary literature.
So that would be the scholarly articles in JSTOR. And then
they’d do a deep dive into the contextual material. But that
depends. For students, they may benefit from seeing the pictures
that help bring the history to life and tell some of the stories like we heard just in
the presentation from the National Museum of
African-American History and Culture. I think that’s enough
demo. We could keep clicking around,
but let’s go back to the presentation so we can get to
questions. One thing I should say is that
this — I see this right now and the team sees this right now as
probably a little bit more of a proof of concept than
full-fledged, you know, research tool ready for heavy lifting. This is more of an idea and an
evocation of that idea to help people understand what it looked
like but there’s still work to do. Oh, I get to click. So
there’s still work to do. So what we’ll do, just so you
know, is over the coming week or two,
we’ll fix some of the things that you might have seen, the alignment issues, the
bugs that we deftly managed to avoid,
and then we’ll release it as a proof of concept. It will be
available on the JSTOR site. You can follow me on Twitter. I’ll announce it, and we’ll
encourage everybody to explore it and use it. And I’ll
probably give some presentations about it, conferences and such.
Just to share what we’ve learned along this way. Along this
journey. We do see some opportunity for
further development. And the first one is, I think for this to be a really valuable tool,
the amount of collections and data that’s included in it needs
to be more robust. JSTOR’s great. The collections at the
Library of Congress and the National Museum of
African-American History and Culture, that’s some really
wonderful material. But it feels still a little — I think
there’s even more that we can do by bringing in, for example, the
digital public library ofDigital Public Library of America or
some other materials and beefing that up. So that would be work
that we would love to explore sometime in the
future. We also would love to explore
some crowdsourced improvement, the knowledge graph that we have
is — there are going to be errors in it. That’s the nature
of how — what it looks like to bring this material together, photographs
miscategorized or things like that, so we’d love to have an
opportunity for people to help improve that. Especially in a
field like baseball where there’s so many citizen
experts who can help us do that.
And then the last area for opportunity — and
again, we’ll see when we can explore these — is
expanding the concept beyond baseball. They are baseball
cards but we can call them trading cards. But the idea of using people as
an explorer — as an exploratory tool to multiple collections is
really exciting. This is sort of a front end to some of the
work that’s being — that’s working in linked-open data and
Wikidata. And you can imagine this same kind of exploratory tool for people of
the Civil War or famous writers or
anything like that. And so we’d be interested in
exploring any of those. So before we get to
questions, I want to thank you for being here and Library of
Congress again. And perhaps most importantly, I want to
thank the JSTOR Labs team. So if you’re on the JSTOR Labs
team, stand up. We have Jared and Siobhan and
Jessica and Matt and Ron and Beth is sitting down. She was
sort of a double agent this week.
[ Applause ] They’re amazing. And I am so
deeply privileged to be able to work with these guys who can
pull this together. My main job this week was to buy coffee.
And I knocked it out of the park.
[ Laughter ] All right. Thanks. Are there
any questions? Yeah. Or comments.
>>(Away from mic). >>There’s a microphone.>>Yeah, hi. My name is Hollis Gentry and I’m
a special with the African-American history museum. I’m also employed with the
Smithsonian library and a longtime person with JSTOR and I
love JSTOR. >>We love you too.
>>After registering for this, I went online to play with your
text, the drop and drag. >>Oh, yeah.
>>And I have one word for you. It is absolutely awesome. For
someone who’s done a considerable amount of research
in trying to find related data on just anything,
any given subject, because I do reference, you know.
>>Yeah. >>It was amazing.
>>Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear.
>>I was typing, for example, we have a transcription project
where we’re digitizing records of federal government records,
millions of documents. >>Yeah.
>>And I just typed in one sentence. I created a document. And all I said was, you know,
the bureau was founded on such and such a date, Washington, D.
C., and it generated thousands of hits for me.
>>Yeah. >>So all I want to say is keep
up with whatever you’re doing. >>Oh, well, thank you.
>>And in terms of trying to figure out ways to apply this, you want to
touch with universityies like you’re doing already with
scholars. But there are different nuances to that
research that I think you’re going to find as you reach out
to the universities and the different subject areas. But,
again, all I can say, it was awesome.
>>Thank you. Thank you. >>I didn’t have to have any
training, how to learn how to do it. I looked at it. I said let
me play with it. In less than ten minutes, it
generated all that material. >>I hope somebody is getting
quotes on this, because, dang, that’s a
wonderful testimonial. Thanks so much. Any other questions or
comments? And we’ll be around over break and later. Over
there. >>(Away from mic).
>>There’s a microphone coming down to you. Orioles fan.
>>Hi. I’m Jordan Ellenberg. I’ll be on a panel later this
afternoon. I’m curious just because I’m sort of naive about
sort of how this information is controlled and what access is
had to what. I mean, cultural baseball cards,
you wanted to, let’s say, for each player, I want to see every
time that player was quoted in the newspaper, like every single
thing they said, those archives exist. What are the barriers to
somebody like you being able to just build that in? So I see
the complete journalistic record of that — of that player? >>The barriers to that access
have to do with access. I mean, a lot of the
in-copyright material — you know, when we were talking to
the researchers, showing them this, one of the first things
they said was exactly what you said. Like oh, my gosh, I want
to see, you know, how newspapers talked
about Roberto Clementi when he was just on the team and they
were, you know, he was forced to be called Bob. I mean, the
language was terrible. And I want to see that and I want to
show it to my students and to help them understand the context
for it. The biggest challenge to that has to do with access and copyright
which are reasonable things. The way to overcome that is
through partnerships with people who have, you know, people like maybe pro
creates or others who have the aggregations of newspapers and
then we can create pathways through there. It’s a little —
it’s another — it’s a bigger challenge to do that
than with the open material that we have with the Library of
Congress. So we often, when we’re doing these weeks, focus on the open
material because it’s easy to experiment really rapidly and
not worry so much about that. And then once we prove the value
of this is a really nifty way of doing research, then approaching
those copyright holders or people who have access to those
databases. Does that answer your question?
>>Awesome, thank you.>>Any other questions? Okay, well, thank you very much.
And I want to see what the Library of Congress did because
it’s competition. [ Applause ] >>Hello. All right. So I have a lot of — we’re
going to start with the starting lineup. So this is our team. Here on your left. Every team
strength is in its lineup. And this is ours. We have Meghan Ferriter who did
a lot of planning for the overall event and did a lot of
coordination on our team. Jamie Mears who you met earlier who
was also very important. Myself, Abby Potter. We’re all
part of the Library of Congress labs team. We worked with folks
from the office of chief information — office of the chief information officer, Chris
Adams, and Grif Friedman and visiting
archivist Julia Hickey who we’ll hear more about what we did with
our baseball data. And we had a lot of great help from our
summer class of interns who are also around here. You’ll see them, Eileen Jakeway, Yasira, Anda and Courtney
Johnson. We were also coached by the
JSTOR Labs Beth Dufferch rt helping us
clearly define our goals and move us on over the week. So
this is a great team. And we started there. But actually, we started before
then during our warm-up which is our data prep. And I’m going to
let Julia talk about that.>>Thanks. Good morning,
everyone. First I just want to say my thanks to everyone I’ve
gotten to collaborate on this project. Again, I don’t work
with LC directly. I’m employed by another federal agency and so
this has been an incredible project for me to work on. And
if you ever get the opportunity to work with LC Labs, it’s
amazing. So please take that in consideration. So what this slightly less scary diagram here or chart is than
what she showed before is what I’ve come to call the metadata
crosswalk. So this is in other terms, a
metadata map. And you’ll see in the first column to your farthest side over here,
this is the athor authoritative
reference for the map. This is the Merck data that the library
has related to their digital collections from general topic
of baseball. And to the next column over, you’ll find the
export. So this is actually, as I think
Jamie mentioned through the tutorial, you can learn how to
do a JSON API call and acquire LC Digital metadata. And we
used that. We plotted that back onto the
Merc data and moved forward. And the significance here is
that when we turned to look at the national African-AmericanThe
National African-American History and Cultures collection and their metadata,
we had to bring it all together. Holding the JSON data and
mapping it into the museum’s data was a significant point and
where we get to provide that out to you.
And one of the unifying factors was the next
column over from there, and this is the Dublin core. It’s a very
common, simplistic metadata schema. And this
united the data such as what you see in the final column and what
will be provided in the final dataset. Some significant
factors here to look at would include the museum’s attributes
field. You’ll see that in the — it’s about third from the top
or fourth from the top, excuse me. And you can follow that through
and you’ll see that’s mapped in a number of different fields.
So this is just some of the intellectual work you have to go
through when looking at metadata to explore where it needs to go
into the right fields for proper use, for
proper querying and certainly for unification and bringing two different
unique heritage institutions together, there’s difficulties
but it’s also kind of exciting challenges to see that LC’s
collection can very easily talk through and with and form this
incredible dialogue related to baseball and all of the subject
matter you saw the museum present and what you get to
explore in our visualization as well. So with that I’ll turn it back
over to Abby. Thank you. >>Thanks, Julia. It seems less
scary when you say it like that. Okay. So we started off the week
visiting our — the baseball Americana exhibit. And we did
that to get us loose and ready to play . The docents led us through
and told us the main themes which are creating and building
community and paralleling American history. So this — when we were sort of
walking through the exhibit, it led us to ask sort of questions
about what we could do during this week. We wanted to know
what else our visitors might want to see besides this
exhibit, as an extension of this exhibit. We wanted to know what other
stories our collections could tell and what different
possibilityies of presentation we could use because there’s
only so much we can see in the exhibit. So in order to generate sort of
the ideas Alex really talked, a nice
overview of what this design session was all about, we had some really
interesting ideas come out of them that I think we’d like to
pursue later including sort of different phone apps and Snapchat filters, you know,
sort of fun things that we think could bring our collections
closer to the people who want to use them. And this led us really to think
about audiences. So we saw all the work that JSTOR did, interviewing the potential users
of our tools, and we saw how careful they did those
interviews and got really useful feedback. You know, that
created a persona. And when we were watching that
work, we thought, well, I think with our collections, with our
exhibit, with our focus, we have sort of a different user in mind
who’s more of a lifelong learner or a teacher who’s trying to
teach people about community or history and just baseball fans,
in general. So those are the users that we
have in mind. Following JSTOR’s lead, we sort
of jumped right into user interviews, and we quickly
created these mock-ups of how we could display our
collections. We used time line JS and one on
a map. We used RTIF. These were tools that were quickly
available to us that we wanted to, you know, try out, see what
would work and what people would respond to. And we did get some
useful feedback on the concept of displaying things
on a time line or a map. But we thought that maybe we should
have — we should sort of go back and sort of kind of mirror
what JSTOR should have done and start with a wire frame and get sort of more information
about — you know, because there’s a lot of — when you’re
working with a tool that exists, there’s limitations there. What
we learned is we should have started from square one and not
sort of skip steps. We used this for the remaining of our —
on the user interviews. And we got a lot of useful feedback on
this drawing. We heard that it could — something like this
could be used in a classroom, especially the time line aspect,
when teaching a subject chronologically. We heard that
adding datasets to our baseball collections data like
census data or income data would help
— would help tell the story of how baseball — use baseball to
tell the stories like the great migration or other
sort of big historical movements that sort of take up the whole
country. We also learned that it would be
meaningful to sort of plainly show what the gaps in our
collections are, what we don’t have and is there a way that we can see that clearly?
And we also learned that there’s users that have a lot of
knowledge about what we at our institutions have. But
knowledge that we don’t have about our collections. So if they’re interested in
contributing to and adding their knowledge to the things that we
do . This rapid prototyping also
is iterative. And like I said, we shared this with users, five users. And with
their comments in mind, it sort of helps us work through
challenges. So this is — I don’t know if you can see this clearly, but this is
our subjects that we are dealing with. So we had 19 columns of
subjects when we brought all of our collections together. And this is really difficult to
show to a user. As you can see, the biggest sort of subject is
baseball card. The second biggest is color. Is that
useful? Is that — so when we keep — when we think of our users, it helps us
sort of work through some of these decisions of how we might present data about
the subject of the items to users. So I’m going to pass it over. To either of you to talk about
the — so this is the next prototype
sort of after the paper prototype. This is what Chris
made. Do you want to talk through?>>So basically, we had several
stages here. The first was getting all of
Joy’s hard work pulled out of the files which is one of our
datasets and geocoding so we could put them on a map. So
that was part of the early part of the project. We didn’t have
a whole lot to show because it was basically here’s some data.
Here’s the different file that contains the same data in a
different shape. And then we started being able to do stuff
like put things on a map. So this slide shows — I think this
was Wednesday — Tuesday — Wednesday, yeah. Tuesday was
data wrangling. Wednesday we got this. Can we go to the next
slide? Oh, yeah. So this is — good thing — so
we actually had three deliverables. So we had the raw
dataset for people who are comfortable working with
CSV files directly. We then pulled it into a new
experimental tool called a dataset which is basically a database with a
web interface which is kind of nice because we can take that
data, write any query you want. You can browse through and see
what it is. So for people who want to be able to really do
advanced filtering but don’t want to write their own code to
do it, this is a nice little intermediate step where you can
look on things. You can tweak it a little bit. Some basic
plots and pull out the data. And then the last slide here is
basically getting into the tool we built, which was intended to
be sort of the general overview to the collection. So I guess
if we wanted to, we could go to the Chrome browser at this point and actually show the live
version here . But basically, the idea here
is this gives you a way to view all of
the items in the dataset on a map. Having the ability to do
search so you can click on any one of those pins, and you can
see the items that are in that location. You can click on an item and
pull up the information about that and just scroll down. It will pass the picture, and it
will show the metadata, the
description. One of the goals that we didn’t fit into the
sprint week was actually linking all those things so that when
you see something tagged with a particular subject, you could
then see everything else in the collection with that subject. And then the last thing here,
you can just close this. Click anywhere on the map because we
want to reset the selection to the whole list. And then you can drag that time
line slider. It can be adjusted. And you can drag that
over. And it adjusts the whole thing. And you can drag the
slider itself. So if you wanted to, you could pick, like, a
five-year period and then just scrub that forward or backward
and see how the dataset changes over time. That will also work
nicely if you mention the — if you put anything in the text
field. So if you’re interested in a certain team or league or
place that’s mentioned in there, you can filter all of these
together. And so we were thinking this is the raw — this
is the basic overview of the data, somebody who’s getting
here first, they can get an idea of what’s in here. They can
follow specific items back to the source institution or up in
the toolbar, we also have the links right now to the dataset.
And at some point there will be a link to the explanatory
document that says here’s how you download this. Here’s what
you can do with it. Here’s the rights, the known
limitations. And I really think this was a
nice way to just illustrate how quickly we can give somebody an
overview for what’s in the data so that they can confirm that it
even answers the question they have in the first place. And maybe it inspires some
questions about why we have so many pins
in a row in an obscure place on the map. Whether there might
have been some confusion in what you were
searching for matches somebody you hadn’t heard of. It really
is a good way just to narrow that down interactively before
you’ve invested any time loading it into your favorite data
analysis tools. >>So one other thing we wanted
to focus on was the idea of bringing in even more data. So
we’re already aggregating data from our collection here at the
library and the National Museum of African-American History and
Cultures collection. So over on the right side you’ll see a mix
of items. That helps contextualize these items. You
can look at them in location and time and understand them. But
as a researcher there may be other information that you want
to overlay on top that helps you understand those even more. So
up on the top right of the map, there’s a control there where
you can actually turn on and off other layers. And we’ve got two
example layers. The first one shows stadiums. So if you could
check that one on. That layer is actually from data we found
online. So someone publicly made
available JSON did the that that shows all of the current
stadiums in the U.S. It was easy to overlay that on the map.
You might find a dataset in a standard format and bring it in
yourself. Now you can make more sense of the data. The other
thing is we wanted to see how hard it would be for us to make
our own dataset. Thanks to hard work on the team if you turn on
the second one, we built a dataset that has team locations.
So this can sort of aggregate with that other data, it gives
you a sense of where teams are today and where they were. And
you can start to look at how the items correspond with those team
locations. So this is just a sort of hint of what you could
overlay on here. It uses the standard format. So the idea is
you could bring in your own data very easily and add it to our
collection and our data.>>Great. All right. We can go
back to the presentation. I think we’re just about — so
that link, that short link there, that is where the current
tool is now. We’re also going to be linking that with — on our experiments page
on labs. And we’ll continue to, you know, work on it.
So what’s next? We do want to finish building
this. And we do want users to come use
it and give us feedback and add
different layers. So we want to give some instructions on how to do that and sort of
more — and we do similarly to JSTOR, we
are really interested in different sort of crowdsourcing
aspects of how this kind of presentation of data could
work. We’re interested in adding different organizations, different types
of data to our set. And continuing to sort of learn
more. One of the big sort of goals of this week was just to sort of have
this week. We’re done now. So that was a complete success.
But we really want to sort of model this same type of process
with other groups, other groups inside the Library of Congress,
other groups outside of the Library of Congress. So we’re
really happy with how everything went. We’re really excited to
do more of this kind of thing and share our collections in different and
more ways like we’ve just showed you, and like JSTOR just showed
you. So with that, that is our demonstration. And we can take
any questions that you have. And I should also say I’m sure the other folks would take
questions if you have questions for them. We have a question, two
questions.>>Could I ask you about the raw
data? >>Yeah, we can go back to the demo and back to the browser,
and then there’s a raw data link at the top.
>>I think you opened it. It’s those next tabs.
>>Yeah. Yeah.>>So this is the sequel
database that you created and worked on?
>>The nice thing is if you — >>Here. >>If you click on items, you’ll
see the raw item records. But the other record — and you
can see there’s one issue we didn’t have to deal — time to
deal with this week which is normalizing multivalue items.
We have an answer for that. It’s just not ready yet. But
basically, at the top there, there’s a sequel query builder.
If you wanted to, you could filter things and just do arbitrary
expressions for how to group or coalesce things. So one simple
example when we’re looking at the data, we have data coming in
from a number of sources. And fending on what you might
want to use as a title for an item, the answer can vary
depending on where it came from and what metadata it had.
Sequel query, we could say pick the first of these that isn’t
empty and pull that in. And that makes it easier to give
somebody a link that shows them things and not have to explain,
oh, for items like that go look over in this column. We can cut
that out. You’ve done that work once. You don’t have to think
about it again. If we go back and click on either the
geography or location columns, these are also specific things
that were present in the dataset. And so one of the nice
things we were able to geocode them and then
the viewer — oh, go back one more screen
here to the main list of all the tables. And click on either location or
geography. This allows you to view those directly. It also
just puts them all on the map for you. So this is a great
way. We were able to do the data QA while the main viewer
was being worked on because somebody else can go look at
that list and say do we really have an item from this location?
Or confirm that the thing we got out of the subject list for
Salisbury, Maryland, was what it geocoded to but it should have
been North Carolina. And those are the kind of issues that you
have for any dataset like this where we’re trying to link a
nonprecise entity to a real value. And that was great being
able just to let somebody else do that
independently. And this is, I think, kind of a nice example
because you could also explore this.
You could click on any entry in that subject table and show you
which items it’s linked to. So if you wanted to do some sort of
filtered query or just browsing around that we didn’t
anticipate, that’s there as a safety mechanism before you get
to the point of, well, now you have to load the data and build
your own tool to query it. >>Great, thanks. One more
question? On a scale from first base to
home run, how fun was this? [ Laughter ]
>>If this is also I was working on this week, definitely a home
run. I’d say a triple. Really great. I work for OCIO so I
don’t get to work with the labs team all the time but it was
really wonderful working with a really enthusiastic group of
people, having Chris on the team. Everybody just worked
really well together. And that certainly makes it more
enjoyable. It was also fun to go from having nothing to having
a functional tool and having that tool validated by users,
listening to them say how useful it would be, how they’d find
things they didn’t think they’d be able to find and all that
kind of stuff. It was definitely a great week.
>>Thanks. >>Okay. All right. >>I’m just wondering if you
have a data visualization of the number of
baseball puns used throughout the week.
>>We have a running list. Yeah, I think our Courtney who’s
been leading our communications has utilized almost all of them,
I think. But, yeah, that’s a subgoal of
the week. All baseball idioms all the time. All right. Any
other questions? All right. If there’s no more questions, then
we will break for lunch. And then we are back here at
1:15. We will have a great panel
discussion with some baseball experts, scholars and fans, and
we hope that you all come back and ask your questions. So
we’ll see you at 1:15. [ Applause ] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .>>>Hello and welcome back. To our Inside Baseball event. For this afternoon, we’ll have a
great panel discussion featuring —
moderated by our very own Meghan Ferriter,
senior innovation specialist here at the Library of Congress
labs. She’s also a sports scholar and
will be acknowledged to our grill our guests — not grill them — but have a
conversation about baseball and how it has influenced and
reflected our History and Culture. I’m going to announce
the panelists, and they’re all going to come out here. But I
want to let you know that this is being livestreamed. And the video will be archived
at the Library of Congress, so you will be able to watch this
again. And again and again if you want. So first the panelists, Jordan
Ellenberg is a mathematician and author, and he uses math to
uncover the hidden patterns that guide our daily lives. He’s a
professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his book
how not to be wrong: The power of mathematical thinking is New
York times’ best-seller and one of Bill Gates’ ten
favorite books. Clinton Yates is a radio host, commentator and
columnist for ESPN’s “the undefeated” and a
Washington Post alumnus. His work examines the intersections between pop culture, politics,
race and athletics in contemporary American life. And
then finally, we have Rob Ruck. He is a sports historian and
professor at the University of Pittsburgh, whose research
traces the dynamics of race in majorMajor League Baseball.
He’s recognized as an authority on the history of the Negro
leagueLeagues and Latinos in baseball. Ruck’s repeat
publications include the 2011 book “Raceball.” So we’ll get
started with our panel. [ Applause ]
I welcome them out.>>I think it only matters so
we’re not so close to each other that we can’t hear each other
afterwards. Thanks everyone for being here. Thanks to those of
you who have tuned back into the livestream or if you were here
already, already have feedback on things that would be
extremely helpful for sports journalists and performing
research using cultural history baseball cards. And if you’re
just tuning into the livestream, again, you may have missed this
morning. We had some sessions where we were describing a
week-long process of exploreing collections from the Library of
Congress, the National Museum of African-American History and
Culture, and articles in JSTOR and the
JSTOR databases which gave us starting points of conversation.
But the whole reason that we wanted to do this and connect
with you all is that we have a baseball Americana exhibit here
at the library. It opened only about two weeks ago. We are
hearing a lot of really interesting things. And we
started our week with a tour of that. We’re going to end our
week with another tour of that space. And we heard from the
docents that some of the themes that they are emphasizing and
the stories that they’re telling are around convening community
and paralleling America’s history. So I wonder if Jordan, you want
to lead us and step up to the plate first here. Don’t worry,
we’ll talk about some language and baseball idioms as well.
What are your thoughts around the ways that baseball brings
people together? Jk
>>Yeah, it’s like batting practice.
>>Also a little bit like a softball pitch.
>>Well, at least for me, one of the things that’s so interesting
about the community of let’s say fandom.
That’s not the only community around baseball. There’s a
community of players, people who work in baseball, et cetera, et
cetera. When I think about the community of fandom which is a
community that I’m a part of, I think it’s
interesting how chosen of a community it is, right? Some of
the communities that we’re part of we are born into. You know,
we don’t choose our family. We don’t choose our history. We do
on some level choose our team that we root for, and yet our
commitment to that, and I think for most of
us emotionally I think it feels — is it okay to say — just as
deep as our commitment to our historical communities that
we’re part of. And I think that can be like a really good
learning to think about, like, what does community mean, if I feel
it so strongly at the same time as I chose it myself, I could
have chosen something else, in some sense it’s
arbitrary as I think Jerry Seinfeld said, you’re rooting
for laundry, yes, but it matters.
>>Clinton, Jordan’s speaking a little bit to passion. And you
do a lot of communicating with people in various media spaces,
on radio and TV and social media spaces. And I think social
media is a place where interesting communities convene.>>This is true. Is Can you share something
that’s either new or interesting about communities?
>>Yeah, I think one of the things that’s foregotten about
history. You can talk about the history and the math, but in
sport itself, the communal context of how it exists,
everybody has to watch two people do one thing. And that
is a very interesting relationship in terms of how it
forces you to understand the concept of team and the concept
of performance and the concept of failure in, you know,
the communal sense. And I think that’s a large part about why people attract themselves,
baseball is attractive to them and why it explains about how
you have to communicate. There’s an umpire. There’s a
manager. Everybody on the bench wears a uniform. You know what
I’m saying? It’s very different
communication in terms of the basic fundamentals
of the game that I think apply to how people relate to it, you
know? So the laundry in one way is very important in a certain
way because you’re not wearing helmets.
You’re not wearing shorts. You’re wearing pants and a
shirt, a button and a belt. You know what I mean? It is very
much about a sort of very normalized process that I think
brings a lot of people together. When you talk about social media
and how different people come toward it, everybody is allowed
to like as a result of all those different things going on, a
different part of the game, you know? And that’s very much, I
think, what attracts a lot of people to baseball. Most people who like baseball
probably don’t even know how to score a game, you know, but they
enjoy the environment around it. They enjoy the sounds and sights
of the game. Without even necessarily caring what happens.
That’s a large part that baseball brings to the American
sporting landscape that I think a lot of other sports have not
found a way to tap into and why ultimately it is considered America’s pastime is because it
hasn’t changed much. And people kind of like that because people
enjoy that in their communities.>>Speaking about numbers and
people not being able to, like, maybe create a scorecard, fill
it out, even read it afterwards and know what different
annotations between. We had a lot of people who asked us
questions as we were working on prototypes, were we going to
bring in statistical data. We said we want to put in some of
these cultural stories. I wonder if you can reflect on the
types of communities that formed around baseball in Pittsburgh
and some of your work that you’ve shared about those types
of teams and people. >>I’m glad you’re not asking me
a statistical question. [ Laughter ]
>>I’m here, don’t worry. Jordan’s got that covered.
>>You know, I’m much more interested in what sport means
to people than the game itself. And when you look at a place
like Pittsburgh, where baseball was
the sport, was the pastime for quite
a while, it no longer is. You see that it allowed different groups of people to feel
included in a sense of community. I mean, that whole
notion of baseball as the ultimate vehicle of
Americanization for the children of immigrants I think is pretty
valid. Where that broke down, of course, was over questions of
race. And during the half century or
so that the major leagues were
segregated, black Pittsburgh created a sporting world of
itself. And an amazing one with two
Negro League franchises. 7 of the first 11 men of the
Negro League selected to the Hall of Fame came to Pittsburgh and much more ever
since. But you look at that community,
that black community, which was fractured by geography, by
whether they were the old Pittsburghers who had come from
the northern part of the South in the 1890s, who were better
off, better educated and lighter-skinned or those who
came during World War I and after from the Black Belt who
were not, you saw that it created a sense of community for
black Pittsburgh. Which allowed them as the Negro Leagues formed in the ’20s and
had this ak Pell archipelago to feel a
part of black America. And I think that had a profound impact
on the ability to build cohesion and a positive sense of collective
self which lasted for quite a while.
>>Thank you very much for sharing more about that. During
lunch today we talked a little bit about Clinton led us out on
this one, describing the ways that professionalization of
major league sports may make the sport less enjoyable. So I
wonder if you can — because it’s predictable, I should say,
not less enjoyable, predictable in the sense of it’s routine.
There’s less variety. There’s less excitement over
what might happen. And so I wonder if you, Clinton, if you’d
like to respond and maybe lead on your thoughts on this, some
of the ways that amateur sport or collegiate sports and how
baseball formed in those communities or in those spaces
tell us different kinds of stories than professional
sports. >>Yeah, I think that’s actually
a large part of why sort of
regionization of baseball has led to the sport at the highest
level of not being as popular as other leagues. Major league
baseball acts like they’re the only form of baseball that
exists, when in reality, you look at somebody like me, I grew
up playing baseball. I played here in D.C. I can name you,
within, you know, a couple relay throws, ten fields I’ve played
on in the city. And that is what baseball is to me, you
know? People tell me all the time, oh, my God, how do you
watch cleej baseball? I can’t deal with the metal bats. You
must not have played a lot of baseball growing up. That’s not
real. What are you talking about? So what I’m saying —
and the reason I bring that up is because it is
— it’s important to understand that,
like, what you’re referring to in terms of the Negro Leagues
and how that community came together was about more than
just achievement at the top. People played because they liked
playing baseball, and that’s what’s cool about it. You know,
you go to a high school game. People show up. The kids are
there to play. They’re not playing to go to college.
They’re not trying to necessarily make the pros. They
enjoy spitting seeds and talking trash to their friends and
hitting the ball and picking it up and putting it down. If
you’re yoonl understanding of what the game is exists from
just the top level down, you’re really selling yourself short on
what a lot of the community of baseball is. That’s why I go to
so many minor league games. That’s why I like coaching
baseball. Because you’re involved with it on a community
level that is more than just about the achievement, the
contracts, the trophies, you know, and the TV time. And that
ultimately to me is what gives back a lot more than any
what I see on television. You know, it’s knowing the people I know from the game and what I
was given as a human in terms of understanding what it takes to
you know, make it work. And that’s still something that
sticks with me. >>I mean, if I can jump in on
that. >>Of course. >>I mean, one thing, because I
spoke to from this top-town point of view. It’s very true,
if you’re a fan of your favorite sitcom, you’re not going to set up four TV cameras with
your friends. The only way you’re going to experience it is
through the professional lens. >>Or turn it on YouTube, man.
>>Yeah, probably more now than before. As you think with
baseball and with respect to regionalization, I grew up in
Maryland and hardly anybody I knew played Little League. Now
in Wisconsin, and what I have learned is my son plays. And I
go there and, like, there’s parents there whose kids are not
even in the game. People in Wisconsin, they’ll just drive
down to the Little League field because you know one of your
neighbor’s kids is going to be there and you’re going to see
people you know or something like that.
>>Right. >>So I think it is really
different in different parts of the country. And there you see
this extremely organic kind of fandom. I shouldn’t even call
it fandom. Organic involvement with baseball — and if you
think college baseball is unpredictable, watch
12-year-olds. That’s a different story entirely.
[ Laughter ] >>Tell me about it, man.
>>I’m thinking of two different lines of thoughts. I’m going to
put them together in the same space. I’ve heard a little
mention about some of the artifacts or objects of
baseball, some of the things, a metal bat versus a wooden bat,
the uniform that you wear, what you’re representing. And in some of our work we’re
looking at these collection items. We are thinking about
the data. There’s also the representation of an image, what
does that show us? And I wonder, Rob, if you can share or
reflect on how some of the spaces of baseball or items or
objects of baseball are changing and how that connects to the
types of the forms of baseball that we see played today or
other people have played in the past.
>>Most of the work I’ve done on baseball has been in the
Caribbean or in black communityies, looking at
baseball pretty much before integration.
— artifacts. What you have are memories. If you’re lucky, you
find photos. The amount of footage is scant . I think, you know, the last
25 years or so as baseball has become overcapitalized, there’s
increasing stuff. But in some ways to me, it has less meaning.
It’s noise. The same way I feel when I go to a major league ball game, which is
why I don’t feel it’s as enjoyable as
a minor league or a Caribbean or a
little leagueLittle League game because you can’t even hear the
person next to you talk. You feel overwhelmed by it. So
I’m probably not the one to answer your question.
>>No, I think that’s a perfect way to connect to spaces that
may be disappearing. Go ahead, clipt Clinton.
>>(Away from mic) I was there recently and I wanted to point
out. My mother is in the crowd. She’s from Kansas City,
Missouri. The major league baseball museum is there. The What it does is, to your
point about things being scant, that is very true. There’s not
a ton. But there is a lot of it there. And what it does —
that’s interesting — and this is not necessarily correlated, I
just thought to bring it up — you realize that what it
chronicles is as much the history of America as it is the
history of many things, not necessarily baseball related,
you know. And that’s sort of what, you know, speaking to your
point about how sports affects people, you know, one of the
first women owners in sports was in the Negro Leagues. One of
the first times where they played in those outside U.S.
communities first, be it the Caribbean, be it Japan, be it
wherever, you know. And it is scant, but it is not
nonexistent, you know. And I think that’s why collections and
things of this ilk are important because everything at some point
becomes scant because you can’t keep everything. You know what
I mean? But there are collections that do these jobs
to keep around what, you know, what people could. And it’s
really fascinating to look at, you know.
>>Korea enforced that. There’s a reason why Buck
O’Neill was the star of Ken Burns’ work on
baseball. And I think a much more important figure than Shelby Foot in the
Civil War. And Buck’s memories and stories and reflections
steal the show. >>Yeah.
>>But it underscores how much your point is that questions of
baseball or are questions of American history. And perhaps
no more so than when it comes to race.
>>First of all, I’ll second the recommendation of the incredible
Negro leagues museum in Kansas City which is I think one of the
best museums in America that I’ve been to. And that’s also
to say I think what you say is very right. So I teach math.
That’s what I do for a living. And I find that one way I tell
stories about math as a teacher is to tell stories about
baseball because baseball touches math through statistics.
And in the same way, you teach history, Rob, and because
baseball touches so many things, as teachers, one of the ways we can teach
whatever objective it is, whether it’s history, whether it’s sociology,
African-American studies, whether it’s math, we can teach
those through the lens of baseball because baseball
touches them all. It’s not just the story of American history,
but it is the story of American history. It’s the story of all
those things put together. I mean, I meet a lot of kids who
don’t think they care about math, but they know they care
about baseball and which player is better than another. You may
— I mean, you know, a kid who’s a little kid today. You say did
you know there was a time when a black man couldn’t go to
Woolworth’s? What’s Woolworth’s? When you say not
everybody could play major league baseball. I think that’s
as meaningful. >>Oh, yeah, it’s a huge
discussion in the sports writer world. I’m of the opinion before of if
you played before immigration, they throw those stats out.
>>They didn’t call it the white league.
>>That’s a huge point of contention. The most famous
players in people’s minds played long before integration. Yeah.
>>I think the math people get that.
>>Right. >>If you talk about the
mathiest people who study baseball, they understand that
there’s a discount that you have to impose and you can’t avoid
that. >>We’ve encountered that this
week in data that don’t match each other, the words that we
use with subjects we give things as professional organizations that categorize nsks, how there
may be a disconnect between the stories we’re talking about, the
oral histories, the discussion, the ways that people talk about baseball or life in
general, which includes recounting being at a game or being — [ Lost audio ]
>>– I was pissed. They stopped giving away
scorecards. I’m, like, what are you doing?
[ Applause ] Like you’re instantly deleting
half of the reason why people are going is to remember the
fact that they were there, you know. And if you kind of like
pay — that is a huge part of baseball in a way that I think
is very different than a lot of the sports.
>>I think that connects a little bit also to some of the
things we mentioned. Just briefly passing by before ways
that some of our collections actually surface exclusions,
what’s not there, different types of artifacts that might
represent types of activities related to baseball, people, even roles.
We see a lot of players or baseball cards that represent
players. We have some managers’ papers. We have oral histories.
But we don’t necessarily have all the stories where people are
reflecting specifically on their experiences of baseball. In
your respective fields, I have to get a plug in about this. We
have resources that may be useful to you. If you are going
to be looking for different types of research or be
performing research and wanted to connect with the Library of
Congress and its collections, what might be types of objects
and/or collection items you would be interested in?>>Hmm.
>>I’m putting them on the spot.>>You know, when I started
doing research, it was going through microfilmed newspapers,
putting a dime in every time I wanted to make a copy. No laptops, no word processing. And I kind of get angry when I
see how easy it is to look at things.
>>Sorry, we’re trying to make it way too easy.
>>When I’m listening to all of the stuff you have brought
together, I mean, I feel as if there was a subject I was
interested in, I’d be overwhelmed by the amount of material and
information. And it would seem to be the next step is not just
to make all that universe of material possible but figure out
how to filter and prioritize so that I
can tell my grad students to do it and
have high expectations. >>This week — oh, sorry, go
ahead. >>I think what would be most
valuable to me, and I think about this as somebody that does
a lot of television at this point would be able to — if you
could categorize how you see things. Like if I said I want
to see every homer that happened on July 17th, 1988, you know
what I mean, around the league or whatever, those kind of
specificities for visual — even I could listen to them, radio
calls or whatever. That to me would be cool because you could — for whatever reason the
way my brain works, to stay in history and this kind of stuff,
really speaks to me. And that — that to me would be
a very valuable resource to know, like, what was happening
on this day in the world? Never mind in a ballpark. And can I
look at them all in the same space and sort of compare them
and go from there as to how I looked at the rest of the globe.
That to me would be really cool.>>That’s what I love about
images of old newspapers, right? Because I could read the story
about the baseball game. And next to it, there’s like a story about, like, strak break strike
breakers and police or what’s happening in Asia. You sort of
see not just what happened on the baseball field but the
people who were experiencing that in the
time, what else was on their mind, you know what I mean?
That puts it in context. >>Well, I promised we would
talk about baseball idiom and language. So let’s talk a
little bit about the ways that baseball is integrated unexpectedly into American
vernacular. As, Clinton, who is a sports journalist, you
probably have to find ways to not use sporting analogies all
of the time. >>That happens for me because
I’m also a massive baseball fan that talks in baseball lingo
just as a matter of course. >>Yeah.
>>It’s hard. I just realized I did that earlier when I said a couple relay
throws. That’s a distance I use in my mind. I’m going to listen
on this one. >>Well, so we think about maybe
let’s think about rather than direct metaphors of baseball and
whether or not baseball, we can understand other — we’re
arguing in our exhibit that you can understand American history
through baseball or you can see direct metaphor for particular
points in time or the ways that people organize themselves. Do
you have any reflections on that, Jordan? >>I mean, I want to say that in
some sense we’re, like, the exact wrong people to answer
this question because, like, we are immersed and we hear those
words and that language a lot. So we know what’s being referred
to. And what I suspect is that for a lot of Americans in 2018, they will
say three strikes. >>Yeah.
>>But they may not even know what that refers to. I mean, when I was I compare it
to, think about how much of our language is governed by nautical
metaphors. You say somebody’s three sheets to the wind. I
don’t know what the hell that means. A sheet was attached to
a boat. >>Maybe a mast involved.
>>Yeah, there’s no way that has something to do with a boat.
That’s fossilized language. That’s gone. Maybe if there’s
any sailors in the audience, you can tell me what it means. To be honest, I think for a lot
of Americans today, a lot of that baseball language is
probably like that. There’s sort of, like, dimly aware it
has something to do with baseball. But they can’t really
put a reference to it. And yet they know what sort of that word
means in English vernacular. And you should ask them.
>>Not to mention, let’s be real about the incarceration policies
of this country, involving three strikes and you’re out. That’s
as real as it gets in terms of putting people behind bars,
vis-a-vis the concept of a baseball metaphor making sense
as to why you should be in prison for the rest of your
life, it’s kind of crazy. >>We think of three strikes as,
like — >>I would personally hate
baseball if I was in jail. Like, yeah. Because that’s, you
know, but whatever. That’s sort of a different discussion.
That, to me, that’s drilling down as far as you can go.
Taking away people’s freedoms based on the notion of what
happens when you’re in a batter’s box, based on a
pitcher and a catcher and whether or not — like that’s
crazy. >>Picking up on a little bit of
a thread that you had, Jordan, of you not being the right
people to ask. I disagree. I think you’re the perfect people
to ask these types of questions. But I also wonder — kind of
related to what you’re both talking about, taking baseball
out of its context, and there’s this could be a slightly
controversial view or it could be something you think is true,
this idea of a decline of baseball as America’s pastime,
that should it still be America’s pastime?
>>I don’t think there is a national pastime anymore. I
mean, I think that sporting interests are fractionalized. Clearly the NFL is the most
successful economic sporting league in U.S. sporting history.
Even that could be some sort of existential crossroads for a
number of reasons. You know, I look at my students, and I’ve
been teaching the history of sport since the late ’70s at the
university ofUniversity of Pittsburgh. And it was easy to discuss
baseball and to have that common shared knowledge. And I think
Jordan’s point is right on the money. They don’t have the
language anymore. They don’t have the memory. I can talk about Bill Mazz Roz Mazeroski and Clemente or Lionel
Messi. I think we’re past that point where we have one
collective sporting experience that is defined by a single
sport. >>I’ll tell you this, though.
And this is something that I don’t know that it’s — I know
that a lot of Americans take for granted. If you go to another
country and you throw something to somebody, they will likely
take it as an assumption that you were throwing it at them and
not to them. And that is a very interesting thing about how — I
mean — I’m saying, though, like — no.
[ Laughter ] You get my point. You know what
I mean? On a very interesting base level, whether or not they
care about leg-league baseball big-league
baseball, the simplest part of the game is integrated into our
society. Hey, catch this. It’s not going to freak you out.
You’re probably going to catch it and you’ll probably be able
to send it back without much of an issue. That’s why I think
baseball will not change as the pastime. It will simply exist
in a different part of our brains as a sporting level. But what the actions are are
very much ingrained in who we are in society, you know?
Throwing and catching is pretty standard American operation, you
know. >>That’s a perfect segue into a
question about whether or not do you view baseball as an
international sport? And I think there’s maybe certain
places in the world that we think of as connected to the
United States through baseball in a professionalized way, but
you may also have other reflections that you want to
share about amateur or community sport.
>>I mean, I think it’s both. I mean, I think baseball, more
than it ever has been, is a world sport. But it’s also a
world sport whose home is the United States. I don’t think
there’s any contradictions there that the U.S. is kind of the
temple. And I think it’s still true that, like, the greatest
world players, their ambition, is to not play in Korea, like
not play in Taiwan, not play in Mexico but to play in the United
States. Yeah. And I kind of like about it that it’s — but
it’s a different mix, right? It’s not the NBA has become a
world sport, too. It’s a different mix of countries.
Baseball has this kind of sort of a Pacific orientation, right?
Where it’s, like — >>I wish. That’s going to be the death of
major league baseball is being concerned about being too
American. That’s really what it is. You look at the culture of
the game, you watch the World Baseball Classic where different
nations fill different squads. You’ve seen this with your
scholarship on the Caribbean and so forth. It’s a totally
different concept than what the game even is. From an
entertainment standpoint, never mind a participation standpoint,
it has to be global in order for it to survive. And that’s sort
of the large mistake I think that the big leagues is making
is that they’re trying to make is very much the sort of Puritanical nonsense
that’s boring. You know, you go to so many different places.
And it’s just — it’s more fun. It’s a different thing. It has
to be global in order for it to be, I think, real for a lot of
people. >>You watch the Baseball
Classic, people from different countries, they’re not playing
in the same style as American players.
>>1,000%. Oh, yeah. I mean, we could break this down on a
strategy level. We could break this down on a style level. You
could break it down on a communication level. You know
what I mean? That’s the way people talk. The way that
people run bases. I don’t know. The aggressiveness with which —
the strategy of the game. It is very different in different
places across the globe for sure. >>(Away from mic) the kind of
this is how it’s done. It’s not done this other way.
>>Yeah. >>And I 100% am in agreement . I’ve never noticed the
players who break those rules, I feel like they’re less likely (away from mic).
>>Okay. I’ll give you a great example of this. Clint Hurdle is the manager of
the Pirates. Hurdle was a number one pick in the draft.
Hurdle hit, like, 40 bombs in his ten-year career and he’s
been managing in the big leagues for God knows how long. He’s
not a good manager. Bobby Baez is probably one of the most
exciting players in all of baseball. Javy Baez hit a bomb and Clint
Hurdle went off about how this is not how you do this and that. And I’m, like, Clint Hurdle was
a bum compared to Javy Baez. He didn’t even appreciate the fact
that he was celebrating something he had done well. I
mean, that right there showed me exactly all you needed to know.
Random white guy who was not a very good players felt the need to
scold, you know, a young Latino player who was showing too much
emotion for what he felt was appropriate to the game. That,
to me, is a massive problem with baseball. Just as a matter of
course, in general, you know what I’m saying? You know what
I mean? We’re going to have fun. We’re not here to talk
about unwritten rules. >>I’ll let you slide on Hurdle.
[ Laughter ] Don’t dis. Getting back to your
question. The major leagues have always
seen themselves as a temple of the game. And they’ve always
wanted to dominate. But frankly, MLB was never the
only game of baseball. And 100 years ago, the best
white and black players went down to the Caribbean and played
winter ball. During the summer, players from the Caribbean came
and played either major or Negro League ball depending on whether
they passed for white. The demarcation point is
integration. And in the years after that,
particularly with the expansion of different media and the
ability to broadcast, the games and the
islands and in Mexico increasingly suck into
MLB’s commercial orbit. And that’s what I think is
deadly . I agree with you toegtsly
about the style. A Cuban game, dminian game,
Nicaraguan game differ from MLB. But what’s even more fun is the
style and the stance where it’s just not piped-in
music all the time or, you know, per
pierogi races. It’s just real action. It’s a far more
exciting experience. >>That might connect back to
this idea of community and experiencing a game you
mentioned — we’ve heard this a couple different times in the
conversation. We’ve talked about coming together in a fan
lot style and how people share information or connect with one
another or the way they anticipate or plan their runs to
the bathroom or next snacks because they know what’s coming
ahead or they want to get on the camera
if they’re in a professional sporting space. So what are
some of the ways that you think baseball might provide — and
Jordan, I’ll maybe ask you to speak to baseball as an
experience, provides opportunity for people to come
together or learn something new about the place that they are.
>>Well, I’m suppose to talk into this now? Okay.
[ Laughter ] I mean, I’m going to say
something, like, very simple about this because I think
there’s this very primal thing where in your life, it’s
actually pretty rare that you’re among, like, a large group of
people whose attention is focused in the exact same place
on the exact same thing. That’s an uncommon experience.
>>All of us here today. >>All of us.
[ Laughter ] All of us who are not on our
phones are having that experience.
[ Laughter ] I mean, okay, it’s a little bit embarrassing, but I took my kids
to theThe Eclipse last summer. We drove down to Missouri and we
went to The Eclipse. Standing there in this big field with all
these people all looking up. I was, like, oh, yeah. This is
like baseball. Everybody here with this big
huge crowd all looking up at this round thing in the sky.
All in the same place. So I don’t know if that
experience, if it’s meaningful, it’s meaningful without actually
meaning any particular thing, right? It’s meaningful in this
very primal way that I think it feeds some kind of desire for math mass experience
that we rarely are offered. >>From an experience
standpoint, I’m not really sure this answers the question. It’s
something I wanted to highlight because of the sort of the
situation but a couple years ago when there
were riots, I’m using air quotes for those of you listening on
YouTube, in Baltimore. The O’s played a game where they locked
out the entire stadium. They didn’t let anybody into the
ballpark and they played a major league baseball game. I was
there. There were probably 50 people there covering the game
which was a super bizarre element of this. I remember
thinking at the time we have really failed as a nation
on a lot of fronts if we’re legitimately playing baseball
games in front of nobody. [ Applause ]
You know what I’m saying? For the sake of the game continuing but the actual experience being
robbed because of some concern about something that may or may
not happen outside of the ballpark. And it was eerie on a lot of
levels. And to the O’s credit, this
year, they’ve instituted this thing where you can bring your
kids to the ballpark for free if they’re under 10 and you can sit
up in the crowd because nobody’s up there anyway.
[ Laughter ] That’s not a knock. That’s a
legitimate way to get people in the ballpark. The reason I
bring that up is it was such a stark contrast of how in the
same place different experiences can be so different and such a profound
impact on a community. And I remember talking to people, you
know, around the ballpark on what I called the ghost game
were mad. They were, like, who does this, you know? And now, you know, Camden Yards
is one of the nicest ballparks in America. To me, it was an
interesting example of the evolution of what I think it
kind of needs to be. Let people in the ballpark and
people will like the sport more. That’s pretty obvious. To me
that’s a large part of the experience. It’s the biggest
thing people will see in their lives in one place. You should
let people experience that. >>You know, I think the best
thing about sport is when you’re playing it yourself, when you’re
participating. The next best thing is when those who are
competing are people you know and care about. We get further and further
removed till we become these consumers
primarily on TV or on our phone or something of people who live in different ZIP
codes. And I think if you flip it historically with baseball,
between World War I and II, there were 400 or 500
independent baseball teams in western Pennsylvania. We had
two Negro League teams. You had the Pirates. But the
independent sandlot and community teams drew far more
people each week than the professional clubs. And a lot of the people who were
playing were people playing into their 40s or 50s. And 40 or 50
was relatively old. And they were playing in the neighborhood
where people could walk to work, walk there after work, throw
some money in a passing hat, and
either see people they cared about or be a part of the
action. And that to me is when sport provides the most
community. I think we’ve gotten several steps removed from that.
>>I want to pick up on something that you mentioned
earlier, Clinton, and you had a little bit of a conversation
about this about some of the greatest players playing before
integration and also the ways — so we’ve got a couple of
cross-cutting threads here. I have only two more seconds.
This is the second to last. So this is a question that’s
about what types of patterns that you’ve seen in history,
Rob, and Clinton and Jordan, maybe thinking about the numbers
and what types of what would you think is the most important type of
statistic or form of playing baseball or pattern from players
in the past that we’ve lost in today’s game?>>Oh, I mean, if you mean — if
you really mean statistics, then I think the answer is nothing, I
think the statistical richness with which we understand the
sport today is vastly greater than it was at any point in the
past. I think we have everything we had in the past.
>>Numbers are consistent over time and other things have
changed. >>I mean, well, apart from the
fact that as Clinton brought up, differences in playing, who was allowed to
play and who the competition was and who was pitching to you.
That obviously is something you have to do separately from that
standpoint. You know, I think age statistics
gets started in the late ’70s, early
’80s, makes it a mass-market thing.
>>Does everybody here know who Bill James is?
>>I’m leaving it people don’t know who Bill James is. He
brought kind of modern statistical analysis of
baseball. People were doing it but Bill James was the person who was, like, I
can sell my books from the B. Dalton and Waldenbooks.
>>Further away. [ Laughter ]
>>He was the guy you had the belief that, like, I can make
this, like, a mass-market thing. Now you go to Miller Park in
Milwaukee, there’s OPS and WHIP on the scoreboard. It’s there
for everybody to see. I did not think I would see that happen in
my lifetime. >>Right.
>>I’m of the of the party — maybe it’s obvious that I would
be — who thinks that’s a good for baseball. I don’t think
that replaces our fandom with spreadsheets or number
crunching. I think it just adds. It doesn’t subtract.
>>I’m interested to hear what you think about this in the
terms of statistical forms of baseball — you know, all this
other stuff. I imagine this is not very popular in your world.
>>I stopped understanding math after Woodstock.
[ Laughter ] Among a lot of other things.
>>Wow, what did you take? [ Laughter ]
>>You know, when you look at all the stats, you just don’t
have that for black baseball. >>Right.
>>You don’t have that for the Caribbean. You’re using a ball which would
have been thrown out, you know,
scrapped but hit the ground. Once in the majors, these guys
might have played most of a game with it. They’re playing with
terrible lighting on fields that are not going to give you a true
hump. So the statistical stuff for
that era mean little to me. You know, that Joe DiMaggio can
say Satchel Paige is the toughest pitcher he ever faced. Or when I would talk about the
Negro Leagues in western Pennsylvania and have guys who
played for their coal miner team, white guys, stand up and
tell me how proud they were that Josh Gibson hit a home run off
them. >>Right. >>That resonates with me. You
know, the stuff you see in box scores from those days, it’s
shaky stuff. >>Right. And when I watch a
game now, I mean, the fun part is the stat — I
mean, the stats are part of the game in the context of it is
part of the notation. It’s part of the record. Like I said, I
keep score at games. That’s different than statistics,
obviously. You know, that’s just — that’s a part of the
game that I’m not going to say I don’t care about because that’s
not true, but it is not — it is behind the action, you know?
And that’s — but that’s also why it’s cool because you would
never — you know, you don’t remember these things. That’s
what they’re there for. But, you know, the most important
stat to me is the one everybody forgets about most, which is
runs scored. The player that scores the most is typically the
best player on the team, just so you know that.
>>Actually, can I kind of — can I follow up on that
question, too? >>You may. Of course.
>>Am I allowed momentarily? >>Of course.
>>When I think about what’s different the way the fans today
experience baseball, I don’t think actually the new regime of
statistics makes that much difference. I think as you say,
what people are watching is did the guy cross the plate or not?
That’s what they’re watching. But what I think is truly
different is to the extent that people — interaction with the
business of the sport is part of their fandom. And you brought
it up and you talked about how it has become more distant and
more of a consumer operation. It kind of blows my mind that my
son who’s 12, he loves playing baseball games on his phone. He
has one game. The hitter and pitch comes. He tries to hit
the phone to make the bat hit the ball. He has another game
where he’s the GM of a baseball team. And he thinks of both of
those as baseball games on the phone. You know what I mean?
And I do think that for this generation of fans, thinking,
okay, like, how many compensatory draft picks am I
going to get if I trade this player? It’s part of what
they’re thinking about. Not is their base going to get
over to make that play. That’s a little foreign to me. And I’m
curious what you guys think about that in terms of this next
generation of fandom. >>There’s games based solely on
that, like video games. Actual consoles where that’s all you’re
doing. I don’t need that, personally. I mean, that’s not
a knock. >>You’re like the old man
portion of the program. [ Laughter ]
>>Well, to be fair, the reason I don’t do it, because I’m not
smart enough to get a handle on it. That’s what it comes down
to at the end of the day. I like playing. That would be the
easy part. Figuring out the other nonsense is hard. That’s
not for me. >>One last question and I’m
going to connect it back to our collections at the library. We recently digitized Branch
Rickey’s players and we heard a lot of feedback publicly from
people who were surprised and excited to see different kinds
of information within the scouting reports and
correspondence. And my question is what is an enduring myth that
you think you would like to either dispel or you’ve recently
myth busted yourself about baseball?
>>Interesting question. >>You can take your time.>>Well, I think a story worth
noting about Branch Rickey that may not necessarily go in the
myth context, though, is that — I’m not going
to say that integrating baseball was not the most important thing
that he did because I don’t believe that. But people don’t
know that Branch Rickey tried to start a third league. There was
a national league, American league, and he tried to start
the Continental league. Like I always think about what would
have happened if that had been real, you know what I’m saying?
>>Like a great pilot. >>If he managed to pull that
off, like some third league where the big leagues were now
— there was, I don’t know, insert 15 more cities where
there were big-league teams now,. I think
about that all the time in terms of who he was because it was
more — like he wasn’t just some dude trying to get, you know,
one brother into the bigs. That wasn’t what he was. He was a
totally larger baseball mind in terms of so many different
things from a business — and a growth standpoint. And that oddly gets forgotten a
lot. Which understandably, obviously Jackie Robinson is
important to America and baseball is huge in Branch
Rickey’s involvement, but that dude was much bigger than that
in terms of the specificity of the sport and trying to grow it on an expansion level in
terms of squads. >>Not to pile on Branch too
much. You know, I think whoever described him as the person that talk
Machiavelli the strike zone was on the money. And, you know, I
thought you were going to talk about the fact he built a farm
system in the ’20s which monopolized hundreds of kids.
>>Right. >>For the Cardinals. You know,
Branch Rickey gets a lot of credit, and I think a lot of it
has been demolished for integration. He’s not doing it over a social
conscience question. >>Right. >>He’s doing it to monopolize
talent, win championships, and improve the bottom line. And, you know, to me a more
interesting proposition would be what if they had brought in
Negro league clubs in the late ’40s? And the Negro League
clubs after integration, which witnessed their fan base crumble overnight,
petitioned Major League Baseball, bring us in as a high
minor league. MLB didn’t even answer. And you could, you know, if that
had happened, then you wouldn’t have
the Pannis movement in 1987 where there’s no black managers,
GMs, front office or ownership. We’re a little bit better now
but not all that much. >>Not by much at all.
>>Well, thank you so much for chatting with me exclusively.
Let’s open up to questions here in the room. Oh, we’ve got one
right there. Enthusiastic. So we have some microphones we’ll
bring around. >>Hi. Charles Martin. Thanks to Rob Ruck again for
your blurb on my book “Lawyer Ball.” I’d like to make a
statement and a proposal regarding the Stultifying of baseball, the
existential turning point of baseball. I suggest that they have the
same — they relate to the same problem, and they have the same
solution, which is that baseball, thanks to the
major league ss and to the congress
hose whose library we’re sitting is one of the few legal economic
cartels. And Mr. Yates, the couldn’tContinental
league would never have succeeded because baseball would
have used its 1922 Supreme Court exemption from the antitrust laws to kill it. This
is how economic cartels behave. They do not innovate. They kill
competition. And the way to solve the
existential problem of people like Rob Ruck
no longer enjoy going to baseball games. Baseball games
taking three hours. Kids not knowing who Mazeroski
and other people in history are is competition. You introduce
competition. You will save the game. The
game is great. It’s hard to kill. But Major League Baseball
and Congress are doing their best to kill it. Are you going to applaud? [ Applause ]
>>Hi, this is Gates Ward. I was just wondering if you think
that we’ll see a woman play in a nonexhibition Major League
Baseball game. >>No. And I think the reason
for that is because I would rather just watch women play baseball against other
women than I would necessarily some, you
know, notion of egalitarianism through competing against men.
I have a huge issue with that on a lot of levels mainly just
because, for example, Serena Williams is my favorite athlete
of all time. When I say that she’s the greatest tennis player of all time,
people are, like, you mean for women, right? No. And
secondarily, that’s not what that is, you know. And I — I would like to see
more opportunities for women to play baseball, period. And if
it has to come only in the world in the framework of doing it against a man, that’s a major
problem. For me. [ Applause ] >>Questions relating to the stairs. The first
question is the exhibit focused a lot on the evolution of
baseball. And I was wondering what the
panel’s position was on the current changes in the baseball
rules, whether it be raising the mound as, what, 20
years ago or introducing the DH or even the new rules that
they’re trying to speed up the game by introducing
different things. As an historian or as an ESPN
commentator or as a mathematician or statistician,
how does that change the game each time they introduce a
new rule, or does it change the game for the better or worse?
>>I mean, I’ll just say this. As a mathematician, I value
elegance a lot. And I think this concept of having a runner
start on second base is the most cockamamie thing I’ve ever
heard. I can’t even say whether it would make the game better or
worse and it’s just ugly. I oppose it on that ground.
>>(Away from mic). >>I went to a game in Nashville
probably a month ago. In AAA, they’ve got pitch clock.
What is it? It’s 30 seconds between batters. 15 seconds
between pitches. 20 if there’s a runner on base. And, okay.
You know, like whatever. Conceptually, do I have a
problem with this. And then I realized my only issue with it
was that there’s clocks on the field. The cool thing about
baseball is there’s no clocks. That’s like the whole point.
And there’s four o’clocks around. There’s a constant
countdown happening in your mind which was a little
bother shm. some. But then they played seven innings, that bay bad boy was over in
like, 2 hours and 15 minutes. Okay. Maybe I can kind of deal
with this. So I’m not really sure because on the surface,
it’s annoying. But it worked, you know? It kept it moving.
And if that’s what your goal is for baseball, then sure. But my position on this has
always been that it’s the nature of the game. Batted balls and
so forth. What happens during the course of the game is what
changes people’s excitement. Not just the length of time.
Inserting seven dudes between the sixth and the ninth for matchups
is annoying. You know what I mean? That is far more
aggravating than just the amount of time it takes. You’re
constantly stopping and starting. And what you’re
getting as an action is not, in fact, that exciting. That to me
is a larger issue that people don’t actually like what’s
happening. Not necessarily how long it’s taking in any matter
of time. >>We have time for — sorry,
Jordan. >>That’s okay.
>>One more question if it’s quick. And maybe another one
after that. >>Okay. I’ll try to make this
quick. Do you think that the owners’
preoccupation with making money in the major leagues especially
has limited the availability for familyies —
and obviously it has — to go to the game, but the importance of
going to the game, having the same experience as somebody like
me that grew up and is 50 years old now would go to the game and
end up behind home plate even though I bought a ticket out in
the outfield, and now if you try and go and do that now and have
that same experience and actually hear the communication
between the dugouts and the umpires and the batters and
stuff is just — you don’t have the same experience when you go
to the game when you go with a family of four to a game.
>>I’ll say this. One thing I think modern baseball is doing
right — and irritates, too — I think the modern baseball
stadium, the cheap, faraway seats are really good. That wasn’t true when I used to
go to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. I go to Camden Yards and like
buying expensive seats sometimes, show off to my kids.
When I sit in the bleachers, you really feel in the game. I
think it was not as true in the older stadiums. In one respect,
they’re doing more to equalize the experience.
>>That’s an excellent point. I hadn’t ever really thought of it
that way. The stratification between the best and worst is
not necessarily that different. You know what I mean? I hate
sitting behind the plate. For me it’s a bad view and you’re
looking through a net. I don’t actually like that seat. But I
do think there’s something to be said about the family
experience. Then again, when I go to baseball games, I really
kind of only see families. I’m not really sure what the other
side of that complaint is because well, yes, it is
extremely expensive in the basic concept and the value of a
dollar, like I don’t — I don’t know who
else is going to ball games. You know what I’m saying? It’s
not like people are walking in off the street that much
necessarily outside of random businessmen. Which by the way,
I never understand, like businessmen specials. Why is it
called that? Like what is this? That’s such — that’s such an
antiquated term. There are still a lot of families going to
ballparks. And without delving into the intense economics of
why it costs so much to go to games, you know, it’s still a
fun experience. And that to me is hard to
evaluate. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. If you go
there, you’re probably going to have a good time. And that, to
me, is effectively the most important thing overall. No? I
mean, does that make sense? >>I would just add that I think
smart franchises in the smart sports are cultivating kids and
building them as fans. And I’ve seen the
penguinPenguins do that in Pittsburgh by making a large
block of tickets available at moderate prices to college
students. And the success of the team is helped. But, you
know, I think, for example, in Dominican Republic, before a
game, you’d see 30 or 40 kids seated on the outfield walls
with poles, with nets at the end to try to snag balls. And they’d become lifelong fans
in the process. >>I think we will wrap up here.
I want to thank everyone for joining us in person and also on
the livestream and especially thanks to Jordan, Clinton and
Rob for spending the afternoon with us.
>>Thank you. >>If you were watching, we will
be archiving the livestream. We’ll make that available to
you. We encourage you to visit — what’s that? Forever on YouTube. We
encourage you to visit the exhibit if you haven’t seen it
yet. I think I will pass back over to Abby to wrap us up here
on this event. >>Thank you. [ Applause ]
>>Well, thank you so much. That was such a great
conversation. I wish it could be hours longer.
>>(Away from mic). [ Laughter ]
>>I don’t know. The Tigers. Transition year. It’s fine. [ Laughter ]
But this is just a very short wrap-up just to thank everybody
that came, thank everybody from the JSTOR team who’s still around who really made
this week very just packed with — I want to use baseball
idioms. I can’t think of them. It was a really wonderful week.
I think this conversation just put a big exclamation point on
it. And I just want to thank everyone for coming and tuning
in. And thank you, Meghan, for moderating that nice
conversation. >>Thank you, Meghan. [ Applause ]
>>And go see a baseball game. And go to the library. (The ceremony concluded at 2:32
P.M. ET. )

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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