Base Ball in Twain’s Time

September 17 — Base Ball in Twain’s Time: 
A Panel Discussion by Five Leading Experts from 
the Society of American Baseball Research


The Mark Twain House & Museum is pleased to present five leading experts from the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), who will engage in a lively panel discussion of “base ball” during the 19th century. The moderator will be the Mark Twain House & Museums’s Education Manager, Craig Hotchkiss, who is a former vintage “base ball” player and frequent presenter of the museum’s community outreach program, Base Ball as Mark Twain Knew It.

This fascinating–and free–discussion on the national pastime will take place on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Mark Twain Museum Center. Panelists include John Thorn, David Arcidiacono, Gary O’Maxfield, Joe Williams, and Bill Ryczek.

Time will be reserved for questions from the audience, and following the program, the authors will sign copies of their books for the public.  Copies of their books will be available for sale in the Mark Twain House bookstore.

Here are biographies of the five panelists:


John represents the best in Baseball historians both figuratively and literally.  He appeared as a frequent commentator in Ken Burns’ 1994 landmark, PBS, 10-part documentary, Baseball, clarifying the game’s history with alacrity and grace.  John has authored many books including the seminal The Hidden Game of Baseball and more recently, Baseball in the Garden of Eden. In 2011, John was named the Official Historian for Major League Baseball.  Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said, “I am very pleased to appoint John Thorn as Major League Baseball’s Official Historian.  I have long admired John’s work, his love for baseball and his dedication to the practice of history.”

In 2006, SABR gave John its highest honor, the Bob Davids Award, for his ingenuity, integrity, self-sacrifice, and his many contributions to SABR and baseball.


David is a SABR member with a special expertise in the history of Connecticut’s major league teams of the 1870s- the Hartford Dark Blues, Middletown Mansfields, and New Haven Elm City Club.  He is also an expert on the 1870’s National Association of Base Ball Players and the National League.  An East Hampton resident, David is the author of three books: Major League Baseball in Gilded Age Connecticut – The Rise and Fall of the Middletown, New Haven and Hartford Clubs; Middletown’s Season in the Sun – The Story of Connecticut’s First Professional Baseball Team; and Grace, Grit and Growling – The Hartford Dark Blues Base Ball Club, 1874-1877.


Gary is an expert on Hartford baseball, wicket and town ball from the colonial era to the 1950s, which encompasses the amateur game, professional ball, minor league ball and the industrial/insurance leagues. He holds an MFA from the Tyler School at Temple University.  Gary brings local baseball history to life with his a Base Ball During the Civil War presentation, and in his role as Commissioner of Hartford Friends of Vintage Baseball.  Gary is a Twain devotee and member of the SABR’s 19th Century Baseball Research Committee.


Joe Williams is a contributor on SABR’s 19th Century Research Committee and the former chairman of the Overlooked 19th Century Base Ball Legends Project. He is an expert on the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  Joe’s work, along with that of other baseball historians, helped lead to the inclusion of Deacon White on the Pre-Integration Era Hall of Fame ballot and to White’s posthumous election to the Hall of Fame in 2013. Joe is an East Hampton resident and holds an M.L.S. from Southern Connecticut State University.   He has authored many articles for and has attended the last 28 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.


Bill Ryczek is the author of seven sports history books.   Among them: Baseball’s First Inning – A History of the National Pastime through the Civil War; When Johnny Came Sliding Home – The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870; and Blackguards and Red Stockings – A History of Baseball’s National Association, 1871-1875.   Bill is a Wallingford resident and holds an MBA from Penn State.

This is a free event, and is followed by a book sale and signing. Reservations are suggested; please call (860) 280-3130 or visit and click on Events.

The Mark Twain House &Museum ( has restored the author’s Hartford, Connecticut, home, where Samuel L. Clemens and his family lived from 1874 to 1891.

Twain wrote his most important works during the years he lived there, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

In addition to providing tours of Twain’s restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain’s literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The museum is closed Tuesdays during January, February and March. For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit

Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.

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