Purdue University North Central Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin
recently participated in the Baseball Hall of Fame “25th Anniversary
Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.” The three-day
symposium brought together experts from across the nation to examine
the impact of baseball on American culture.
The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture was
jointly sponsored by the State University of New York College at
Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
A noted labor relations and baseball expert,
Dworkin participated in the segment of the program entitled, “Baseball
Potpourri: A Story Everywhere You Look (Bullpen Theater)” and was a
member of a three-person panel discussing “Blue Ruin and Rebirth:
Umpires’ Unions.” “The annual symposium presents a unique opportunity to examine
baseball from a variety of perspectives,” explained Hall of Fame
Librarian Jim Gates. “We do not necessarily discuss baseball statistics
or batting averages. Our topics are as diverse as an examination of
baseball art, poetry and literature to social and legal issues. This is
an opportunity for us to look at all aspects of baseball and how it
fits in to the American way of life.”
William Simons, symposium co-director and professor
of History at SUNY Oneonta, noted, “This is the preeminent conference
on baseball scholarship. Through the years, the symposium presentations
have provided the impetus for numerous books, articles, dissertations
According to Gates, more than 120 proposals for
papers were submitted to the Hall of Fame, with about half of those
being accepted. “We never know what topics we will receive,” he said.
“Some reflect the issues of today’s baseball and sports climate; others
take a historic or societal look at baseball. No two papers are ever
A capacity group of more than 160 took part in the
symposium. The event’s keynote speaker was noted author and commentator
Frank Deford who presented, “Baseball, Casey and Me.” Deford has
written for “Sports Illustrated” since 1962. He is a regular
correspondent on the HBO show “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” and is
the author of 15 books. Deford was elected to the National Association
of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame and six times at
“Sports Illustrated” he was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of
The 25th Cooperstown Symposium coincided with the
125th anniversary of the first publication of the poem “Casey at the
Bat” in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1888.
A highlight of the event came during a dinner in
the Hall of Fame Plaque Room when “Casey” himself appeared to recite
the legendary poem for the assembled group of baseball aficionados.
The symposium attendees also enjoyed taking part in
a “townball game” played using the 1840s rules of the game.