Most catalogs in the Vinson collection have nothing more written on them than dates, prices of the cars from salesman, or prices from the person later selling the piece of literature. Occasionally, however, one encounters something completely different. This was the case with the Cadillac Motor Cars catalog, shown here. According to the date written on the front cover, this catalog is from 1928.
Inside the front and back cover, someone has used this catalog to keep score for a baseball game. It leads you to wonder about the story behind this item. Did the individual have the catalog lying around at home and was keeping score while listening to the game on the radio? Or were they driving to the game in person and wanted something on which to keep score and found this catalog lying in their back seat? Or was the game from an era completely different from the catalog that may have just been lying around as a convenient writing surface at the time? We will never know for sure.
For inside the front cover, the box score identifies the game as between St. Louis and the A’s. From this, we can make the educated guess that this refers to the St. Louis Cardinals (Thanks to Emmett for the tip!) and the Philadelphia A’s (who would go on to become the Oakland Athletics). The final score of this game was 8-7 in the favor of the A’s. On the opposite page, there is even the long division where the scorekeeper worked out the player’s batting averages.
The box score for the game in the back cover is much more badly faded, but one is still able to make out that it is between the same two teams. The final score of this game was 7-5 with St. Louis winning. Perhaps these games were played as a double header? Or just part of the same homestand? Again, questions to which we will never have the answers.
In case anyone is wondering if this scorekeeping was done by Mr. Vinson, there is no way of knowing for sure but I would suspect not for three reasons. First, he was born in 1933, so if this catalog is from 1928 and used to keep score around that time, he was either not born or very, very young. Second, the handwriting does not even remotely resemble any of the writing samples we have from him. Third, as a passionate lover of automobile literature, it seems extremely unlikely that Mr. Vinson would treat a catalog like a piece of scrap paper. Even as a child, he mentions one of his biggest regrets being that he cut photos out of car catalogs, but I think it is quite a jump from cutting out pictures of cars to enjoy them and treating a catalog like a notepad.
While this blog post holds more questions than answers, it shows you the kinds of mysteries that archivists often encounter. Collections will often provide many of these questions about where or when items came from. Perhaps we have some rabid baseball fans out there reading this and they’ll help to solve part of this mystery by figuring out when these games took place. If anyone out there does feel up to the challenge, please post your findings in the comments section as I’m sure we’d all love to know what you find!
UPDATE: Be sure to check out the comments section where some of our readers are helping to solver our mystery!
Emily Cottle is the Project Archivist/Cataloger for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.