People Near Here; 204; Ted Spencer: A Home Run for History
Why he doesn't wear uniform has no Iara AOR RBI says but some say Ted Spencer has the greatest job in baseball. Next on PEOPLE near here. Yeah
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.
And welcome to another edition of people near here spending much of our lives hard at work. Many of us dream of the day when we can retire retire with enough strength and enough money to settle down perhaps in a small town to spend the rest of our years doing what we really want to do. Whether that's sending a fabulous garden writing the truly great American novel or just being there for every single home game of the local baseball team. Well we've come to a small town in rural America to introduce you to a fellow who's pursuing his lifelong dream of living in a small town and doing exactly what he loves to do. But Ted Spencer is not about to retire. Not while he's working at what many a sports fan would call the greatest job in America. Ted Spencer lives here
in Cooperstown New York and he works there at the National Baseball Hall of Fame where Ted is curator of one of America's greatest traditions. That's right. If you love baseball then no doubt you have dreamed of coming here to Cooperstown New York the traditional home of baseball as a boy growing up in Boston. Ted Spencer dreamed of coming here too. After all Ted Spencer was named for Ted Williams the battling Boston Red Sox who was one of the game's greatest hitters of the
1940s. Well Ted Spencer's dream came true a few years back when he cinch the job as curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Now Ted and his family live here on the shores of the lake in a quaint little American town where novelist James Fenimore Cooper grew up and where Cooper was inspired to write of the American wilderness on an epic scale in such famous books as The Deerslayer. But Ted Spencer lives here because he's interested in another kind of American history the history of the game of baseball videographer Paul Frederick and I caught up with Ted for a rare look at the man who keeps track of one of America's most eclectic and most precious collections the artifacts that are in the museum are wonderful.
A lot of people come here to see the plaques of the people who have been inducted in the gallery. Right. That's one of the highlights of the tour of this museum right. You know if you want to call it certainly you know you step out of the water with hundreds of thousands of children playing baseball and as it goes up the tree until you get to the point where thousands of guys who played Major League Baseball you have only about 175 players actually inducted I mean we have over 200 inductees with some of the executives and and things like that. So with this round rather than the obvious. The whole thing gallery and it was built in the he was built the early 60s. Point the plaques were out of the mainstream of the museum which was also probably one fifth the size that it is today.
This is where this is saturated with history here. But you were telling me an interesting story to me about making a.. Like that's what's going to talk about this. And here's Mickey Mantle's plaque right here. What's the story you're saying. Not quite a year ago you know a phenomenon happened something that never happened before. I've been here for now 14 years and I've seen it somewhere around 40 hall of fame has died. And what happened was after mantle died within the next week or two a lot of people have flowers and a couple of photographs. So he believes you're right here. So being like paintings you know only as a memento. It's an indication that they were here you know to himself. It was quite a few that we've never seen before. And what do you do with things that people leave. Well it depends. We kept those things
at least for the time being themselves particularly significant. We felt the meaning in that particular instance of the drive of the old story that we were talking about the other day when we and I first met about a picture a picture that you found under a display. This is a story. Like I said to you when I was a little kid they used to do the same Christmas stories on the radio every year when our story on the radio two years ago we had a lot of construction. We took all the exhibits off the second floor out of the floor to do the work. And what we had was. An empty room with exception of one of our people found this small photograph and a note on the back and it was obviously probably
from maybe a little before picture found the picture in the World War 2 area but subsequently found no significant museum. No it was just obviously down to the exhibit and it was a case it was enough for the guy to do this. The note on the back said you were never too tired to play catch with me. You always came to see me play. You helped build the little league field. You were a Hall of Fame dad and Wish You Were Here to share this moment with son Pat. And we have since found Pat talk with him and the story was his father very close his father been dead about 20 20 years so he decided to induct father into the Hall of Fame. I wanted to get that field of green touch to it. And yet it's real it's from the heart.
Those exhibits were up there for 14 years so that it could have been there that one but in fact it was there about seven years. You know this was something that he personally nothing no publicity about it. I'm sure he would have been just as happy if it stayed there for a hundred years and nobody had seen it. So the museum really does belong to the people. Well it's exactly that. That's a story we try to tell and that's what I've certainly learned here at the game launch of the people it's their property and always has been. Before it was called baseball when people play ball. We asked Ted to show us a couple of his personal favorites in the museum. And he did but first he wanted to stop by the archives and pick up a special artifact which had just arrived and was about to be put on display. Now be it the rarest baseball card of the mall Honus Wagner from the early days of the game or a chunk of edits field everything on
display here. It's treated with the utmost respect. Here we are in the archives this is a registrar. You can look around. I can't help but notice this series you hear that this is ready to go on display this is the shit that quite good war when he pitches no hitter a few weeks back. We just received it last week. You know comes into this office all the out of facts come into this office and they're registered to put on a database to photographed the condition is stated in a log so that the so the fact could be controlled from here on in. This is no longer shared you know it's not without a fact if it happens. That's right and it's in a now has to be treated and the people in this room you know conform to certain rules and regulations that they have been typing you know in school and they have to be hard to get to I didn't share about this attack. No in
fact we didn't even ask the shit we asked for his cap. So he sent that sure it was wonderful. Now this image of a season you know you have so many uniforms to wear. So this was really a wonderful wonderful addition to the collection and unexpected. So you know we couldn't we could've been happier. He says to itat here it's probably going to. When we hear about it. OK so is this pretty much of an everyday then around here when you put something on the slate when you know there's the those events happen. We've I we've got a number of things from this year's a season already. Some things are still being processed downstairs but we probably got a half a dozen things already are for. That's it but they want
you. I used to do this all the time reserving American history and preserving and preserving it for a hundred years or a thousand years of the world last 10 million years. Yeah I felt sure it would
be detrimental here. So what we have to do is replace the natural felt with the display case was your worst enemy. You know the irony is that you don't want war you don't want to know things killing themselves you know. But at least we understand it more working to set it up. Sure feeling history here. Think that's true. I feel that way.
Now it's in here this is the room we've had a number of years but this this is the redesigned about three or four years ago. And what we have here something is really special to us and to the collection. Paper has been known for his his love of children and his attention to children. And we recently received a letter something we never had a collection before which is a letter from Babe Ruth to a young man with polio in Boston in 1932. He talks about hearing that he was going to get better and hope that someday maybe he'll be taking place in the in the batting line up. So it's really a wonderful thing about this letter the little boy sister showed up here about a half ago.
I want to know if we'd be interested in finding. They say we would never had anything like this in the collection Before You know what I like about it too looking at it here this is not a Xerox copy of this letter. That's the original letter that is the red letter on his personal stationery. I sometimes wherever I see it is just a final picture of her brother in the in the early 30s with a bat. That's wonderful. What else do you imagine you have a lot of favorite things here personal favorites being you know being a baseball fan. Things that I enjoy the things that I would have enjoyed when I was younger. The elements of the game that that kind of meant more to me than others. These are record setters will look into gloves balls shoes and bats. Right. These cases is not current record so much as it is a record set in the past that at one time somebody said to somebody else to surpass and that's one of the things we try to show here that is an ongoing process of trying
to be better. One of my favorites I was a stone once about this was like here it was a was a was a good sleep a little bit of the senators and the Indians for a while. I said special but at the end of his career he became a pinch hitter for the Phillies. He made history one week he had a week that nobody else had before him with home runs. And that that with listening to it on the radio the third homerun of the radio when I was still living in Philadelphia and had followed his career because like most Americans we tend to identify with the everyday guy rather than the superstar so I was you know personally as a fan of his that that he was able to stick around long enough to have that museum was here before I arrived and it was quite a thrill to see it when I when I got here and you have another favorite band over here. Yes again it's the same type of story because we like to juxtapose things
the Marines versus the or in this case Pete Rose with all of his hits and errors as was a player in the 60s and 70s with with the Tigers and he in his career he only had approximately 100 50 hits I think was actually less than that for his whole career his whole career and yet on one day he had seven and he was the first to get seven hits in a game. It's been done a couple times since. But here's another example of the every day me and getting a chance. And taking advantage of it and he got those seven hits with that very probably have he certainly got at least one of the hits. It's exactly the kind of story
you could take us. Mind you take a look at this you know there's no doubt but according to the wire and also as we get beyond the plays we get to other subjects as well. But you know you could just you could just pick anybody at random without listening to somebody. Now what I'd like to do is the best thing to do is pick somebody you don't know. Yeah that's that's the most fun. There's a name that I know of because my cameraman is named Fred but I've never heard of John. What is it John Henry.
John Henry Johnny Frederick choco Henry Johnnie Frederick. Here's the file on the right you know so he's. This is a this is a this is a war obviously if you look at the car means probably also it's pre 1930. That little blip on the bow of the piping really was something that went out around 1930 too. So so this picture was taken of at least one hundred twenty nine files full of photographs of this right. That's a good question I can tell it looks you know looks like a Boston or Brooklyn but the Caps not here it is right here. OK so here he is Johnny Frederick with Lefty. And so
we have things like this happen where some people call up and say who died 25 years ago. And I'd love to show my grandchildren anything his career do you have anything. And when we do it's it's a wonderful feeling to be able to make somebody happy. That's wonderful. It doesn't cost anything. Happiness isn't anything here comes through. His moment in the sun and and is known as son is recorded forever right here tonight at the Baseball Hall of Fame and see who will show us that Mel still OK and if you actually play we have to find all we have to find the letter Oh oh he did so and he was over here. I got over here you know I know what I'm looking for. OK this is the file was it say but the glasses on here. O'Donnell Joseph O'Donnell you know this is this is a copy of the Hall of Fame dad
sort of got the original photograph from when hidden back in the exhibits. But we did make a copy. This is the photograph that story you told us about the son who took the picture of his dad and wrote something nice on the back of it and slipped it underneath the gates here at the Baseball Hall of it is that an ice ball of the original this is only about two by three inches. This is we just blew it up. But here's a copy of it I know you're never too tired to play catch on your days you helped build the little league field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame dad. I wish I could but wish I had this moment with you. Your son had goosebumps this past.
It's going to be a champ it's a ball and that's it it is a job I mean it's I cynically music baseball fan but it's a job and that's what it's aggravations and it's Busters is like any other job. But it's in a wonderful community. The subject is something that the people care very much about that people come here to to be entertained into urine and they're not disappointed I mean and they go I have I'm like I'm like an actor who who has an audience who just comes waiting to be entertained and have a good time. They come in a great frame of mind which is really what makes so it makes it very easy to perform on a stage when your audience is sympathetic to what you're doing. You
have a favorite team. My favorite team is the Red Sox. People ask me how can you be. How can you be impartial if you like the Red Sox so much. If you don't have a favorite team you have to have a kind of center point that with your knowledge and love of the game console because because it's so difficult. Well that's it. That's all the time we have for this edition of people near here from Cooperstown New York and meeting Mr. Ted Spencer doesn't he have a wonderful job. Beata videographer Paul Frederick. Check it out. Yeah thank you on behalf of videographer Paul Frederick. Thank you so they did.
- People Near Here
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- Mountain Lake PBS
- Contributing Organization
- Mountain Lake PBS (Plattsburgh, New York)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- "The curator of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum tells of his life-long love of the game and gives a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.*(episode number on tape label and/or slate may be incorrect)"
- Series Description
- People Near Here is a documentary series that explores Adirondack history and culture.
- Local Communities
- Media type
- Moving Image
Camera Operator: Muirden, Derek
Editor: Frederick, Paul
Producer: Muirden, Derek
Producing Organization: Mountain Lake PBS
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE)
Identifier: 0082A (MLPBS)
Format: Betacam: SP
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “People Near Here; 204; Ted Spencer: A Home Run for History,” 1997-00-00, Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-113-79h44w80.
- MLA: “People Near Here; 204; Ted Spencer: A Home Run for History.” 1997-00-00. Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-113-79h44w80>.
- APA: People Near Here; 204; Ted Spencer: A Home Run for History. Boston, MA: Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-113-79h44w80