Saturday, August 29, 2009

Library adds Schalk book to collection

My friends at Dubuque's Carnegie-Stout Public Library, 11th and Bluff streets, have added my Ray Schalk biography to the collection.

The development made the library's official blog, which is handled by Mike May.

During my research on the Schalk biography, as well as my Red Faber project before that, the library staff was great help. A special shout out goes to Mirdza Berzins, who helped with many Interlibrary Loan transactions and many other searches.

Thanks, Mike, Mirdza and the crew at Carnegie-Stout!


Kevin said...


Thank you, and I look forward to reading your book. I currently work and reside in American Samoa, but I was raised in Litchfield, IL.

As a young boy I listened to my Great Uncle, Ray White, talk about how he used to play pitch and catch with Ray Schalk when they were kids. I also played most my little league games at Schalk Field. However since those days, I haven't given much thought to Ray Schalk. Until recently.

This past August my family and I took a long overdue vacation, and went home to Litchfield. During our visit we drove up to Galena, IL, with my sister, to visit my niece who teaches school there. One night, while talking on the back deck, we wondered how far away was the film site for "Field of Dreams".

To our delight we found out that it was just about 20 miles west of Dubuque, your lovely town. On our way home we went to Dyersville and saw the field. You couldn't have asked for a better day. The sky was blue. The corn was green and tall. Perfect.

After returning to Litchfield, we sat on the front porch with my soon to be 80 year old parents, and discussed our trip to Dyersville. This discussion led to the Chicago Black Sox story itself, and Ray Schalk's part in the story. If I ever knew, I had forgotten that he played on the team, and wasn't involved in the scam.

I'm a great lover of baseball. I love the movies "Field of Dreams" and of course "The Natural", and I couldn't believe that a subject so near and dear to my heart involved a young who grew up in my hometown, and I didn't know about or had forgotten it. I was taken back to say the least.

This got me to thinking. Why isn't Ray Schalk, his life story, and his honest values, taught in the schools in Litchfield. I don't recall his name ever being mentioned during my school years. He would be a great example for children, especially young boys, to look up to and be proud of, especially in these days where so much of the influences are negative.

The day before we left, I walked up to Schalk Field. The only thing there, noting that the field was Schalk Field, was an old painted sign in the outfield. No plaque. No nothing.

Well I now have a mission. My intentions are to lobby the city, from afar, to at least get a nice memorial plaque dedicated to him at the field, and I want to lobby the local school board to see if they can somehow include his story into the curriculum.

For my own part, I'm to buy your book and read it. If I like it (which I'm sure I will), I'm going to buy 5 additional copies for my four sons and one nephew.

I will ask that they read it, and also leave it in place that they might easily refer to it at a later date. Just a glance at it might help them make the right decision, when someday they face their own tough time, demons and temptations.

The subject has lit a spark in me.

Best Regards,

Kevin Painter
American Samoa

Brian Cooper said...

Kevin, thanks for your comments. After I committed to doing the Schalk bio and made some observations about his "place" in Montgomery County and Litchfield history, I hoped that the biography would spark greater recognition and pride for their hometown Hall of Famer.

That might be happening, to a degree, already. I'm told that the youth baseball program would like to re-dedicate the fields to Schalk next season.

When I go to Montgomery County for three programs and booksigning events, I hope that there will be a greater awareness of Ray Schalk and his contribution to the great game of baseball.