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 and courses."
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 alike."
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 Year.
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.