It’s been a busy week on the Project Cobb website. First, two old British baseball publications were newly added to the historical materials section, those being volume 1 issue 2 of Baseball, from June 1939, and volume 2 no 1-3 of News Sheet, from 1948.
Second, the collection of programmes and other artefacts was expanded with many new additions -Â so much so, in fact, that what was previously one list is now three. To make the site more user-friendly, thereÂ is now a trio ofÂ tables listing the miscellaneous digitized holdings (i.e. those not in the Anthony Taylor collection or another archive held on the site). One table is for 1900-1949, another is for 1950-1969, and the third is for 1970-1999.
Third, and perhaps most excitingly of all (hence its mention in the title of this article), is the launch of a new Project Cobb archive, to collect and preserve details on the championship-winning teams through the history of British baseball, going all the way back to 1890.
About the new archive
The idea for a national champions archive is not a totally new one. For instance, the British Baseball Federation website’s downloads sections offers a “List of National Champions of British Baseball.” However, this list contains nothing more than the name of the winning team, and – unsurprisingly – makes no mention of competitions run in parallel to, or independently of, the governing body’s main competition each year. So, for instance,Â the Scottish Amicable National Baseball League’s champions from 1987, 1988, and 1989 are not mentioned despite it being a competition ran as an official adjunct to the main league. Neither are any champions of National League BaseballÂ (UK) included, because this league, which ran between 1992 and 1994, was a renegade competition. Of course, their omission from the governing body’s official records is not surprising.
Nevertheless, there is no denying that some of the parallel or renegade competitions have been of a high standard, and they are thus worth including in a list of teams that have won national titles.
There is one website where the official and unofficial champions are combined, and that is British Baseball Data. Mark Tobin’s siteÂ does not only that, though, but also provides many other useful resources, such as play-off results, box scores, and rosters. These areÂ all linked to from the new archive, which is why Mark Tobin is listed as one of the three individuals currently collaborating on this archive, at the top of its webpage. Besides me, the other member of this trio is Josh Chetwynd, who has dedicated much time and effort to restoring the patchy historical record of British baseball.
British Baseball Data runs back as far as the years immediatelyÂ following World War II. The new archive, once completed, will extend that period back to 1890, the first year of structured domestic competition in Britain. In addition, it will supplement theÂ information linked toÂ on British Baseball DataÂ with as many team photos, line scores, and feats relating to the national finals as can be uncovered.
Currently, the newly launched archive goes back as far as the year 2000. Over the coming months, its longitudinal coverageÂ will extend backwards, decade by decade. I could have waited until information for all decades had been at least partially completed. However, my thinking is that going ahead andÂ publishing the incomplete archiveÂ at this stage will undoubtedly facilitate requests for assistance from other members of the British baseball community,Â not least becauseÂ it is much easier to link to something that already exists than to try to explain what it will be like.
How you can help
If you wish to become a collaborator on this project, you can leave a comment below, send me a message through the contacts page on this website, or email the address at the top of the new archive. The probably nature of assistance needed on this project is contacting individualsÂ associated withÂ different championship-winning teams back through the years. In addition, some research at a newspaper library is likely to be of substantial benefit. Please also get in touchÂ if you would like to find out what otherÂ existing Project Cobb initiatives you could potentiallyÂ volunteer to help out with, or if you wish to get an idea of where there may be gaps that some new research could plug.
My favourite archive item so far
Finally, my favourite item so far in the archive is the photo of the Croydon Pirates from 2004. In the final, Croydon had expired all their regular arms, but saw an option in part-time knuckleballer Jeff McDonald. He gave up five home runs to a potent Windsor offence but fought his way to a 12-10 victory.
Many thanks to Andy Kulina for passing this on to me. As the currentÂ Pirates’ scorer, I am, of course, a little bit biased here, but you’d have to be very staid to not smirk at the AC/DC T-shirt sported by the player three from the left on the back row. The player is Rhys Dixon, who isÂ Australian, just like the power-chord-roaring band whose name he is so proudly displaying.