Google’s news archive a treasure for baseball researchers, fans


New York Giants' 1913 Opening Day lineup at the Polo Grounds

For the baseball fan and the baseball researcher, the Google News Archive is a dream come true. Point your browser to and at your fingertips you have access to an unimaginable bounty of newspaper and magazine clippings on the grand old game, not to mention just about any subject you might care to pursue.

You can follow any team almost day by day through any year – the New York Giants in 1913, for example, shown above on Opening Day at the Polo Grounds. They made the World Series that year, only to lose to the Philadelphia Athletics.

I became aware of the Google archive a couple of years ago because the newspaper at which I work was one of the early members of the News Archive Partner Program. Newspapers agreed to work with Google to get their content online, and Google is scanning and indexing newspapers going back to at least, as far as I can tell, the early 20th century.

It’s a gold mine for historical information on baseball. In just a few searches today, I found the following:

  • A June 29, 1921, story from the Berkeley (Calif.) Daily Gazette about the opening of the fabled “Black Sox” trial in Chicago.
  • An AP story in the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette on Christmas Day in 1925 about how Babe Ruth would undergo a rigorous exercise regime to help him stage a comeback in 1926. (I never knew that Ruth had a “failed” season like ’25, when he hit just .290 with a mere 25 home runs.)
  • An AP story about the Cleveland Indians that appeared in the Reading (Pa.) Eagle on Jan. 21, 1965, a few days after the Tribe had reacquired Rocky Colavito in a three-way deal with the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Athletics. (The trade was the biggest news of my life to that point when I was a kid in Cleveland!)
  • A UPI story in the Pittsburgh Press on Oct. 20, 1969, carrying a report from the Chicago Daily News that the Seattle Pilots would move to Milwaukee the next season.

Think of anything you want to know about baseball – the feuding between Reggie Jackson and Yankees’ manager Billy Martin, speculation on how Willie Mays would hit as Candlestick Park opened in San Francisco in 1960, or Branch Rickey signing Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers and assigning him to Montreal of the International League in 1945.

The possibilities – not to mention the box scores – are endless.

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