The Hall Ball

One Fan’s Journey to Unite Cooperstown Immortals with a Single Baseball


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About the Book

Rescued in 2010 from the small creek that runs next to Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York, a simple baseball launched an epic quest that spanned the United States and beyond. For eight years, “The Hall Ball” went on a journey to have its picture taken with every member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, both living and deceased. The goal? To enshrine the first crowd-sourced artifact ever donated to the Hall. Part travelogue, part baseball history, part photo journal, this book tells the full story for the first time. The narratives that accompany the ball’s odyssey are as funny and moving as any in the history of the game.

About the Author(s)

Ralph Carhart is a Brooklyn-based theatre director and manager, as well as a baseball historian. Active in the Society For American Baseball Research (SABR), he has contributed to four volumes of player biographies published by SABR and is the head of their 19th Century Baseball Grave Marker Project.

Bibliographic Details

Ralph Carhart
Foreword by John Thorn
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 263
Bibliographic Info: 323 photos (16 in color), index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7964-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3793-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by John Thorn 1
Introduction 3
Prologue 5
Where Our Story (and the Game) ­Began ◆ New York 11
Springtime ­Home ◆ Florida 23
The ­Playground ◆ New Jersey 31
A Tale of Two Cities (and the Places ­In-Between) ◆
Pennsylvania 34
The Land of Our Irish ­Founders ◆ Massachusetts 45
Day ­Trip ◆ Connecticut 53
The Birth of the Big ­Leagues ◆ Illinois 56
Capital ­Heroes ◆ Maryland 65
The Most Sacred Ground of ­All ◆ Virginia 72
The Living ­Members ◆ I 74
­Groundbreakers ◆ Ohio 82
Hoosier ­Hopes ◆ Indiana 91
Unlikely ­Allies ◆ Kentucky 96
Between pages 98 and 99 are 8 color plates
containing 16 photographs
­Hack ◆ West Virginia 99
The Briefest ­Glory ◆ Delaware 101
Minor League ­Mecca ◆ North Carolina 104
Lessons ­Learned ◆ Georgia 108
Sol White and the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave
Marker Project 111
The Living ­Members ◆ II 114
Unexpected ­Connection ◆ Texas 123
Meeting Friends and ­Family ◆ Michigan 130
So Many ­Brewers ◆ Wisconsin 135
A Forbidden ­Land ◆ Cuba 139
Fire and ­Ice ◆ Arizona 144
The Longest Road ­Trip ◆ California 147
Hometown ­Legend ◆ Idaho 157
The Farthest ­Corner ◆ Washington 159
The Living ­Members ◆ III 162
Tickets, Both Meal and ­Traffic ◆ Oklahoma 169
For the Love of ­It ◆ Kansas 172
The Truth About ­Pete ◆ Nebraska 174
The Home of the Negro ­Leagues ◆ Missouri 176
Finding Cristóbal 185
Two Locals and a Louisiana ­Yankee ◆ Arkansas 192
Blessed ­Mobile ◆ Alabama 195
A Pair of ­Pitchers ◆ Mississippi 197
Let the Good Times ­Roll ◆ Louisiana 200
The Symbolic Ones 202
­Paradise ◆ Hawaii 214
So Much for Symbolism 217
The Living ­Members ◆ IV 221
The White Whales, the Hall of Fame, and the Baseball
Reliquary 229
A Eulogy: April 17, 2017 235
Index 241

Book Reviews & Awards

• “A pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., shouldn’t be just on some bucket ‘wish list,’ but a must-commit adventure…You step back in time. You see a city that’s far more an oasis than you’d imagine in Field of Dreams…brilliant”—Tom Hoffarth’s The Drill

• “One of the best but least-heralded developments in the recent history of baseball literature was the inauguration of the McFarland Historical Baseball Library in 2003”—Spitball

• “Invaluable McFarland Historical Baseball Library series. McFarland has served baseball fans everywhere by bringing Kelly’s voice back to life”—Edward Achorn, The Providence Journal

• “From getting lost in the trunk of Carhart’s car to its unexpected final resting place, this journey transformed The Hall Ball to bring together over three hundred members of the Baseball Hall of Fame like never before.”—Nine