Next Wednesday, July 24th, the Reading Into History family book club will be exploring baseball’s complicated past through the book The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz. Each chapter of this book is an “inning,” and each inning tells the story of a generation of the Brooklyn-based Schieder-Snider-Flint family (nine generations total, of course!) and the baseball history they witnessed or were a part of. Through the book, readers learn about how baseball evolved from a rag-tag street game to a professional pastime, how African Americans were once excluded from the game, and how women were briefly included in the game. The protagonists of the book also have deep connections to objects that each of them collects in their lifetimes. We can certainly understand those connections here at the New-York Historical Society, where we all have our favorite artifact among the more than 1.6 million objects in our collection.
At the book wrap event on Wednesday, we are going to discuss the book with a special guest, Erik Miklich of www.19cbaseball.com. Erik will be able to answer a lot of questions about baseball’s origins, and he will even be bringing and gear and rulebooks so participants can play baseball by 19th century standards! It’s going to be amazing, but only for the brave…apparently, no one used gloves to catch balls in the old days. Erik will also be bringing at least one uniform for us to look at!
Here at the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, we have a replica of a 19th century baseball uniform in the Esteban Bellán pavillion. The whole uniform is enclosed in a case, but a piece of its fabric is out for visitors to touch. If you feel it, you’ll notice it is made out of an unconventional (by today’s standards) summer fabric: wool. What do you think it would feel like to play baseball outside in a wool uniform in the summer?
Everyone who comes on July 24th will get a chance to feel old uniforms, chat with Erik, talk about the book and play a little ball either outside or in a large classroom (if we have to be indoors, we’ll modify how we play.) We hope you will join us! All book club events are free with admission, best suited for families with kids ages 9-12, and no RSVPS are required. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org