In the library at Colby College in Waterville you will find, along with countless books and scholarly papers, a copy of a program from the 1965 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers. To flip through the pages is to be transported into a world gone by. There’s an ad for a new Honda scooter priced at $215, and one for Nate’s Friendly Liquor Store featuring “the finest in bottled goods” with “fast, free delivery.” Ah, the days when a neighborhood retailer could buy an ad in a World Series program….
In the top corner of the cover of that program is an autograph that reads “Sandy Koufax 65 C.Y.” Here is where this item, and the roughly six hundred other pieces of memorabilia in a collection donated to Colby by alumnus Kurt Cerulli, will draw in fans of the great American pastime. Cerulli didn’t just collect baseball mementoes—he would have them signed by the players with a statistic or two from their greatest moments. Thus the Koufax signature with its reference to his Cy Young award in 1965, or the autographed ball from Boston’s Carlton Fisk, the hero of the sixth game of the Series against the Red in 1975 (“75 WS—Gm 6 HR” reads the inscription).
Colby president David Greene, who grew up in Massachusetts rooting for the Red Sox, showed us around the Cerulli collection. One of the first items that caught his eye was a program signed by Hank Aaron. “I don’t know about you, but I stayed up night after night waiting to see Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking home run. That was such a big deal at the time,” he recalled. “What I didn’t understand at that time was all the racial injustice that he faced throughout his entire career and what that meant for him, and how he was fighting every single day that he was playing baseball. So looking back on this now and being able to see the materials that are here, that represent Hank Aaron at a time and place, I can begin to think about this in a very different context.”
Colby will use the collection in a wide variety of courses to get students thinking about baseball, but also about labor, popular culture, the role of sport in American society and economics. On that last subject, here’s a quick lesson on the effects of inflation: you can no longer buy a new Honda scooter for $215.
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