The week prior to the symposium, a lunchtime film series titled “Baseball Americana” was sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the Publishing Office in the Library’s Mary Pickford Theater. Films included “In Search of History: The World Series Fixed! The Black Sox Scandal” (1998), “When It Was a Game” (1991), “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace—Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues” (1983), “A League of Their Own” (1987) and “The Earl of Baltimore” (2005).
Symposium attendees were treated to a film screening featuring scenes from notable baseball films. The 1928 silent film “Speedy” featured comedian Harold Lloyd’s classic portrayal of a cab driver taking Babe Ruth to Yankee Stadium. Dramatic films such as “Pride of the Yankees” (1942) featured Gary Cooper in the life story of baseball legend Lou Gehrig, while Jackie Robinson played himself in the 1950 biographical film about the first African American to break into the major leagues.
Other clips showed baseball-related scenes from films released during the 1970s and 1980s: “Bang the Drum Slowly,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Eight Men Out,” “The Natural” and “Naked Gun.” Perhaps most unusual was the 2006 “mockumentary” titled “Gandhi at the Bat.” The 11-minute independent film gives a newsreel-style account of the little-known (and totally fictional) incident when pacificist Mohandas K. Gandhi pinch-hit for the New York Yankees in 1933.