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Joe and baseball

Topics/tags: Grinnellians, short

The other day, I had the opportunity to attend a panel on Joe Rosenfield ’25 led by George Drake ’56. During the Q&A session after the panel, one alum stood up and told a story about Joe. I don’t think the story made George’s book on Joe. We didn’t record the session [1]. So I thought I’d do my best to get something down for posterity [3].

It went something like this.

Everyone knows that Joe was a big fan of baseball [4].

They may not know that Joe was instrumental in bringing baseball to Grinnell.

When I started at Grinnell, Grinnell didn’t have a team. Joe wanted to change that. So he paid for all of the equipment: the bats, the balls, the uniforms [5].

When we played our first game at Fairgrounds [6], we were surprised to see a limousine pull up to the field. It turns out that Joe had driven down from Des Moines to support us in our first game.

It’s a nice little story that should be preserved. I think it says a lot about the ways that Joe was comfortable using his money in support of the College and the things he liked.

I will admit that I was surprised that Grinnell did not have a baseball team. I see that there was a baseball team in 1868 and it looks like we fielded a team until 1915. But no team was fielded between 1916 and 1956, which I expect was when Joe decided to re-form [7] the team. I wonder why the team disbanded in the early twentieth century. I guess I’ll have to wait for the Wall/Bisson book to find out.

[1] I know that the Rosenfield Program folks tried to get it recorded. Unfortunately, Grinnell does not have good infrastructure for recording these kinds of sessions [2].

[2] I’m still incredibly frustrated that no one thought to record Grant Gale’s talk about Robert Noyce on the opening of the Noyce Science Center. I also would have liked to have us preserve Gordon Moore’s comments.

[3] Will my musings survive into posterity? Who knows. Maybe I’ll print them out and donate them to the archives when I retire. For this particular musing, perhaps the Grinnell Magazine will pick up the story.

[4] If I recall correctly, he was the largest minority investor in the Chicago Cubs.

[5] I don’t believe that the speaker mentioned Joe paying for the coaches. I’m not sure whether we just had student coaches in the first years of baseball or whether we asked a coach from another sport to help. The historical record that I found lists no coach from 1957 to 1969.

[6] No, not the swimming house.

[7] No, not reform.

Version 1.0 of 2019-12-07.