As most of your know, I am writing a book about early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football. One of my ND classmates quipped that I will sell NO copies of this book because I am giving away all my stories for free! He may have a point. OK, I’m not good at marketing. In retirement, I have been spending hundreds of hours every month researching and writing on this project, so I’m also not very good at cost-benefit analysis either. I would rather pay Roberto to mow my lawn and rake my leaves so I can sit at the computer doing this labor of love.
Why did I start this? In the Fall of 1964, Professor Tom Stritch, the estimable Chair of the Communication Arts Department at Notre Dame, was asked by Charlie Callahan, ND’s legendary Sports Publicity Director, to recommend a student for a 9-hour per week student-assistant job. Tom sent me for an interview. The crusty old Callahan, an ND lifer, was from Massachusetts, so he liked that I was from Gloucester. That broke the ice…a little. He asked about my sports knowledge and interest. I immodestly told him that I was very knowledgeable about baseball history. Before I could finish that sentence, he snapped at me “Who were the five men that Carl Hubbell struck out in succession in the 1934 All Star Game?”. As I rattled off the names and finished the answer with “Joe Cronin”, I thought I detected a slight smile. The interview was over and I began work. I received $180 for the nine hours per week for the semester. I worked 30 hours a week, coming in after-hours several evenings a week. In those days, all of the Athletic Department administration was located in the south end of the basement of Breen-Phillips Hall.
This was the greatest job in history for the Capster (nearly equaled by being hired as a Campus Tour Guide the following summer). I have many great memories during my days in Sports Publicity. At one time or another, I met all the members of the Four Horsemen. A lot of celebrities dropped by…I remember old time Bears great Ed Healey, in particular. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame around the time I met him. I also remember a young ND grad named Don Criqui stopping by. In those days, Sports Publicity guys were sometimes nicknamed “tub thumpers”, because their job was to “beat the drum” to publicize their players. Callahan was a master. The job usually entailed a lot of long nights of drinking with sportswriters. Callahan was a master.
One of my favorite assignments was assisting a young “Sports Illustrated” reporter who was covering an ND Basketball game. Because this was S.I., I was not EVER going to forget his name---Frank DeFord. Over the years, I closely followed his extraordinary career. A few years ago, ND honored him for his lifetime of achievements. I was an invited guest. Frank was introduced to me by Bob Schmuhl, the OUTSTANDING chair of Notre Dame’s American Studies and Journalism. Bob is another man from the Tom Stritch tree. DeFord immediately said that he remembered meeting me 40 years earlier---LOL---Bob Schmuhl has a great sense of humor.
There was a BIG baseball highlight during my time in that job. I came across an old, yellowed-sheet of paper titled “ND men in the Majors”. It purported to list 40-some ND-MLB. As I scanned the list, I saw that many of the players had never played in the majors. I also noted the omission of some ND men who I knew as MLB. I cross referenced the list with my copy of the Turkin & Thompson Baseball Encyclopedia, and quickly corrected and updated the list. A few weeks later, I wrote a letter to “Baseball Digest” magazine, telling them that I had a 5,000 word article on ND men in the majors. I gave them some highlights. The Editor replied, telling me that I would get $50 if he received the article within a short period of time. FIFTY dollars! Are you kidding me? I was working for pennies an hour, so $50 was astronomical. Now I had to get work and actually write those 5,000 words.
When the magazine came out, with my article among those listed on the cover, my dad bought every copy in the local new stand. For the next 39 years, I kept adding to my research on this topic. In 2004, Arcadia Press published my Notre Dame Baseball Greats. Shameless plug---you can get it at the Bookstore on from Amazon.com. And, I promise anyone who buys it and does not learn something new about Notre Dame or is disappointed that I will buy it back from them.
While reading (daily and nightly) the Notre Dame Media Guide and all information I found in the many file cabinets, I noticed that the early records were not very complete. For the next 50 years, I was first in line to buy the Notre Dame Football Media Guide when it came out. Roger Valdiserri and John Heisler produced the FINEST guide in the country, year in and year out. But, I noticed that the “stats” and “records” sections were missing or sketchy prior to 1918, Knute Rockne’s first year as head coach. By the time colleges got around to having student Sports Information Directors (ND was a leader, in the early 20’s) and full-time professionals in that role, there was great difficulty in finding the earlier records. Today, we have access to a much larger array of sources, and, fortunately for the lazy Capster, most of these sources are available on-line.
My first objective on this project was to merely determine who scored all of our points in the first 30 years we played the game. I got distracted. While reading old game accounts and box scores, from “The Scholastic” and from microfilm of the South Bend newspapers, available at the South Bend Public Library, I noticed that there were at least two dozen Notre Dame players not previously mentioned in the record book. I expanded my research to correctly identify all of the listed players and those who had been missed. At that point, my latent OCD kicked in and I decided to find the full names (including what their middle initial stood for!); dates and places of birth and death; and a short summary of the player’s post-ND life. What had begun as a short “stat” record sheet became a book project.
What sources have I used? Number one has been the “enrollment records”; “Scholastic” articles; and “Alumnus” items which are available, on-line, from the Notre Dame Archives, one of the greatest departments at Notre Dame. Archivists Peter Lysy and Angela Kindig have been terrific in guiding me and responding to my requests.
In the early 1950’s, I got my first library card, from the Sawyer Free Library, of Gloucester. It was/is a wonderful place. Sixty years later I got a library card in South Bend. This gives me access to a national data base of archived newspapers, which has been very helpful. I have also contacted historical societies; public libraries; other college archivists (usually very helpful, but nobody as good as ND); college Sports Information Directors (sadly, a very common answer is “We don’t do any research”); and newspapers across the country. I occasionally use the phone book. If a player has an unusual name and is from a small area, I will check to see if there is anyone with the same last name in the phone book. It’s difficult to make those cold calls---“I am not a telemarketer”---but I have been very lucky with a few of them.
But, my biggest non-ND source has been courtesy of the Mormons. The Mormons have a belief about “baptizing the dead”. Here is a description of this, from the internet: For Mormons, baptizing the dead solves a big theological problem: How do billions of people who never had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ – including those who lived before Jesus walked the earth – receive salvation? By baptizing the dead, a practice known as posthumous proxy baptism, Mormons believe they are giving every person who ever lived the chance at everlasting life. That includes Muslims, Hindus, atheists, pagans, whoever. “Mormons believe that there is a place the dead go where they are in ‘spirit prison’ and where they have the chance to accept the Christian baptism,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University. “But it’s a duty to actually perform Christian ordinance of baptism, so Mormons seek out every last person who ever lived and baptize them.”
In order to follow through with this theological belief, the Mormon Church has compiled the greatest repository of biographical data ever collected. Ancestry.com is “a subscription-based service”. I am one of their one million subscribers. Ancestry has located and placed on-line millions of documents (census records; military draft registrations; birth and death records; passport applications; and many more. Familysearch.org is a similar, though less comprehensive service of the LDS Church. After using Familysearch.org, I was more than willing to pay for the expanded services of Ancestry.com.
While using Ancestry.com, I have also been able to locate “family historians” for some of the Notre Dame guys.
Here is what I found on one very obscure ND player. The Notre Dame Football Media Guide lists a “Carl White” from Lookout Mt. Tn. as a sub “C” in 1911. White substituted at Center, in the home opener, versus Ohio Northern, and never played again. The man who started the game was Glenn Andrew “Dummy” Smith, a deaf mute (!) and that is another fascinating story.
The Notre Dame “enrollment records” verify that we had a Carl Bradford White enrolled at ND, from 1905 through 1912, from age 11 through age 18. His hometown is listed as either Chattanooga or Lookout Mountain. Unfortunately, there is no mention about this guy in the SCHOLASTIC or ALUMNUS, after he left Notre Dame. This is not surprising, since he was either a Minim or Prep for all of his time at ND and did not receive a degree.
Ancestry.com to the rescue. While “White” is a common name, the middle name of “Bradford” helped me find him. I also had to expand the states where I searched for Carl beyond Tennessee. Here is the mini-bio I have for Mr. White:
White, Jr., Carl Bradford
b. 10/1/1894, Cincinnati, OH; d. 9/9/1971 (76), Tulsa, OK. 6’2
At ND, 1905-1912. Engineering student. In 1907, he won the Gold Medal for Penmanship, at ND’s 1907 Commencement Ceremony and the Gold Medal for Christian Doctrine, two years later, along with a “certificate” for his deportment. Frequently commended for his acting ability in school plays. One-game sub center-1911. Graduated from Yale, where he belonged to the Berzelius secret society. WWI-Artillery Captain. 1922 Passport application listed his job as “salesman, oil wells supply”. Applied for membership (1926) in the Tennessee Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, listing Samuel Davis as his ancestor. According to family historian, Robert Porter, Carl was a descendant of David Bradford, one of the colorful leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790’s. Carl’s great-grandfather was Col. Maunsel White, who emigrated to America at age 13 and became a wealthy land owner and Captain in the War of 1812. Col. White was friends with Presidents Zachary Taylor and Andrew Jackson. He also was the first grower and marketer of Tabasco Red Pepper sauce and Maunsel White’s 1812 Wine Sauce. Carl’s final job was as Vice President of the Franks Manufacturing Co., of Tulsa. Mechanical Engineer.
Here is the complete listing of White’s ancestors that Ancestry.com has:
Father-Carl Bradford White, Sr., b. 1863, New Orleans
Grandfather-Maunsel White, Jr., b. 1830, New Orleans
GGF-Col. Maunsel White, b. 1783, Tipperary, Ireland
GGGF-Lawford White, b. 1735, Limerick, Ireland (his wife’s maiden name was Maunsel)
GGGGF-Joseph White, b. 1712, Limerick, Ireland
Since there are 365 players from our first 30 years, who played in nearly 200 games, you can imagine the breadth of work I have undertaken. Labor of love.