Strike Four: Adventures in European Baseball is a book that I have reviewed here on BaseballGB and posted a follow-up post aboutÂ here. The first half of Jeff Archer’s entertaining collection of memories and observations from his time in European baseball in the 1970s and early 1980s covers his time in Britain. He became involved in the sport’s administration, and one of his ventures, which is recounted in Strike Four, was the London Twilight Baseball League of 1976. I have written a history of that innovative butÂ short-lived competition here, and posted follow-ups on it here and here.
What more can I write on Archer’s time in England, you might think? Well, I had the pleasure of meeting him out in his home in San Diego right at the end of last year, and we talked at length about baseball. We even enjoyed a game of catch in which he threw in a few of his famous knucklers. When I first corresponded with Archer in 2008, he was a man whose interest in baseball had long been dried up, in part because he had put so much into the sport in the 1970s and 1980s and in part because the game he saw being played in the Major Leagues was not the one he had played growing up or even the one he enjoyed in England. Okay, the rules were basically the same, but MLB is not real baseball. However, Archer’s interest in baseball has recently been rejuvenated, and one of the projects he is taking on is a Facebook area to gather recollections and images of baseball in Britain during the 1970s, his time in Britain.
Before going into what the contents look like at present, I should note that you don’t appear to need a Facebook account to access the materials (I don’t have one but am able to view them), although if you do and can add a “Like” – or whatever it is you do on there – then I’m sure that the increased interest would be greatly appreciated.
The first thing to draw your attention to is Archer’s note on The Origins of “Strike Four: Adventures in European Baseball”. This includes his own description of the waning and waxing of his interest in the game that I mentioned above:
â€¦Â After two years in The Netherlands, Archer returned to his home country, never again to play or coach. He was burned out at age 34. From age eight until 34, baseball had a hold on him that was unshakable. But, he lost the addiction in 1983.
In 1995, Archer chronicled his European baseball experiences in the book “Strike Four: Adventures in European Baseball.” The book was more of a cultural and sociological look at how the game that, although using standard rules, varies from country-to-country. Lately, the book has regained popularity in Britain as a new generation of British players are reading it and learning of the history of the game they now love in their own country. An interesting thing has happened to Jeff Archer. He now is writing and discussing baseball with a renewed interest. He looks at the current state of baseball in the US and longs for the days when he once rubbed shoulders with many participants in baseball who played the game against many adversities, but who showed a devotion and love for baseball that he has never seen since he returned to the US. He wants to share those days with today’s generation of baseball players, coaches, scorekeepers, administrators and fans.
I’ve emboldened a sentence that stood out to me. It offers a perspective that reminds us that perhaps we need to be pulling together as a baseball community in Britain, because while it may be a struggle to achieve progress, we are all in that struggle together – as cheesy as that mind sound.
In the final sentence in the text quoted above, Archer describes his purpose for setting up the Strike Four area on Facebook. Elsewhere, he expands on that:
The eight years in Strike Four represent the best eight years of my life. I would like to discuss not just the book, but the times depicted in it, especially more behind-the-scenes experiences not in the book with anyone who participated in baseball in Europe in those days as well as the newer generations of participants and fans.
As part of this, Archer has set up photo albums to publish any images that are made available to him through this initiative. He has kicked this off with a great set of images mostly relating to the book itself.
If you know of someone involved in the game during the period in question who might like to share memories or items, be sure to alert them to Archer’s project.