The current COVID-19 global pandemic has altered everyone’s lives in a variety of ways. This includes rethinking if, and how, a 2020 season might look for a variety of sports, many of which were postponed at the onset of the pandemic. As an archivist with a diehard passion for the Minnesota Twins, I’m particularly missing the ability to turn a Twins baseball game (really any game) on this summer. To help fill this void, I decided to look at some of SC&UA’s baseball-related materials, which are in both the University Archives collections and Manuscripts Collection.
Baseball was a sport at UNI for 103 years, with its first official season starting in 1893 with the team “the Normal Nine.” Even before then, baseball was informally played on campus since at least 1878, with the first student newspaper explaining that “Base Ball in the pasture is the favorite amusement.” In early 2009, the University announced that the baseball team would be cut due to budget reductions, and the team played its last game on May 16, 2009. SC&UA has a wealth of UNI baseball photographs, ranging from its earlier days until the 2000s. SC&UA additionally has a number of athletic media guides for different sports, such as this 1940 booklet, which includes information about the 1939 baseball team and a 1940 team schedule.
The Richard Panek collection (MsC-59) consists of material Panek collected while researching and writing his book, Waterloo Diamonds, published in 1995. The Waterloo Diamonds was a minor league baseball team in the Midwest League from 1989-1993. The team was affiliated with the San Diego Padres from 1990-1993 and played at Riverfront Stadium.
The collection also includes materials from the team, such as Midwest League record books, yearbooks, Board of Directors minutes, and team memorabilia. This collection is a good example of how archival collections can be more than just correspondence, minutes, etc. For example, the collection contains Waterloo Diamonds baseball cards, a small Louisville Slugger bat, pennants, and more. The photographs of the UNI baseball team and the Panek collection pretty obviously had materials about or featuring baseball, but other SC&UA collections do too.
While the bulk of the Eugene F. Grossman papers (highlighted here) relates to Grossman’s naval service and later career in radio, television, and film, the first part of his collection contains materials concerning his youth and personal life. Included in his personal photographs are a handful showing young men playing baseball. The Grossman papers are an interesting example, as they show that even collections focused largely on other topics hold other treasures as well, if you’re willing to do some extra digging.
Baseball has long been considered America’s pastime and SC&UA’s collections offer insight into the sport at UNI, in the Cedar Valley and beyond. The above collections highlight just a few of SC&UA’s baseball-related materials. If you want to learn more about UNI baseball, you can browse IndexUNI baseball articles and the digitized school yearbooks in ScholarWorks.
Contributed by Tessa Wakefield, July 2020
Kelly, James L., Gary Kelley, and University of Northern Iowa Foundation. Panther Scholarship Club. From Tutors to Panthers : A Brief History of UNI Athletics. Cedar Falls, Iowa: Panther Scholarship Club, 2012.
Davidson, Nikki. “UNI Baseball Team completes it’s last season.” Northern Iowan, August 28, 2009. https://indexuni.library.uni.edu/sites/default/files/ni/2009/00000007.jpg.
Davidson, Nikki. “UNI Baseball program ties up loose ends.” Northern Iowan, June 19, 2009. https://indexuni.library.uni.edu/sites/default/files/ni/2008/00001017.jpg.
“Waterloo Diamonds.” Waterloo Diamonds - BR Bullpen, 2018. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Waterloo_Diamonds.