September 30, 2023

Retired Librarian Jack Bales Stays Professionally Active

A poster advertises Jack Bales’ presentation at the Brookfield Reads program of the Brookfield, Illinois, public library.

Various research and writing projects continue to keep Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales busy.  After his true-crime narrative and tale of baseball history, The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series, was published in 2021, he began presenting Zoom PowerPoint programs to baseball groups all over the country.  Library organizations soon followed, including an in-person PowerPoint presentation and book-signing for the Quincy, Illinois, Historical Society in April this year.  The public library of Brookfield, Illinois, selected the book for its 2022 Brookfield Reads program, and on Aug. 13, Bales spoke before local residents, answered questions and signed books.

Bales has published three books on southern author Willie Morris, and a week after his trip to Illinois, he was in Jackson, Mississippi, signing books and discussing Morris’s life and works at the Mississippi Book Festival.

Bales is an active member of the Society for American Baseball Research and is working on a Zoom program for SABR’s Nineteenth-Century Speakers Series.  The title is “Beer Beats Them: The Chicago White Stockings’ 1886 Season and the End of a Base Ball Dynasty.”

Bales hosted the annual convention of the Horatio Alger Society in Fredericksburg in 2021 and 2022.  He will host the convention again in 2023 and will present a PowerPoint program on Albert Payson Terhune, the author of numerous popular stories about dogs that were published in the 1920s and 1930s.

Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales Stays Busy in Retirement

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Jack Bales, Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus, remains busy and focused in his retirement as he promotes his latest book, The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series (The History Press, 2021). Besides participating in podcasts and interviews, he has presented numerous Zoom PowerPoint talks to various groups around the country about how a young woman, Violet Popovich, shot Cub shortstop Billy Jurges in his hotel room on July 6, 1932. It was “an episode of unrequited love,” according to the baseball periodical The Sporting News, and the shooting indirectly led to Babe Ruth’s famous “Called Shot” home run during that year’s World Series. “I spent quite a few years researching and writing the book,” Bales said, “but it was all a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The Zoom talks—with dozens of marvelous images and photographs—have gone over very well, but then, this fascinating story of baseball history and true-crime intrigue deserves all the credit.”

Public libraries have also been emailing him about Zoom presentations for their patrons—and buying his book as well—and Bales does not foresee retirement boredom creeping up anytime soon. The Chicago Cub Shot for Love landed on at least two “best books of the year” lists, including the Washington Independent Review of Books’ “The Best Book I Read All Year” in the December 29 issue. The reviewer writes in part: “Bales does an impressive job of melding his exhaustive research with a fast-paced tale to bring the story of Chicago Cub shortstop Billy Jurges and showgirl Violet Popovich to well-deserved prominence. . . . A book to be savored. . . .”



Bales Speaks to, Chicago’s Daily Herald

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales was interviewed on and Chicago’s Daily Herald on his book, The Chicago Cub Shot for Love, about the 1932 shooting death of baseball player Billy Jurges by his former lover, showgirl Violet Popovich.

The Crime of Passion That Led to Babe Ruth’s Epic World Series Home Run (

Chicago Baseball’s Link to the Great Chicago Fire (Suburban Chicago Daily Herald)

Bales’ Newest Baseball Book Reviewed in The Free Lance-Star

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales. Photo Credit: Erin Wysong.

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales. Photo Credit: Erin Wysong.

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales’ latest book, “The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series,” was recently reviewed in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.

Baseball fans, rejoice!

In “The Chicago Cub Shot for Love,” Jack Bales unearths a story that may have been the impetus for one of the most celebrated and debated moments in baseball history—Babe Ruth’s called home run in the 1932 World Series.

With the research of a librarian (Bales was a librarian at the University of Mary Washington for 40 years) and the storytelling of a Hemingway, Bales unfurls the story of Cubs’ shortstop Billy Jurges and showgirl Violet Popovich and their doomed relationship that almost led to Jurges’ murder in summer 1932. Read more.

Bales’ Book Featured in Chicago’s Daily Herald

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales. Photo Credit: Erin Wysong.

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales. Photo Credit: Erin Wysong.

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales’ book, “The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series,” was the subject of an article in Chicago’s Daily Herald.  The book and article focus on 21-year-old Violet Popovich, a former chorus girl with the Earl Carroll Vanities, who shot 24-year-old Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges in Jurges’ room on July 6, 1932 at the Hotel Carlos in Chicago. Read more.

Bales Quoted in FLS Article About Local Scholarship Winner

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales was recently quoted in an article in The Free Lance-Star about Beheshta Nassari, a local young woman who came to Fredericksburg as a 18-year-old refugee from Afghanistan. Determined to graduate from high school before the cutoff age of 21, Nassari learned English in three years, and, in the midst of a pandemic, completed her junior and senior year requirements. For that, Nassari’s counselor at James Monroe High School nominated her for a scholarship through the Horatio Alger Society, which is holding its annual convention this weekend, organized by Bales.

When members of the Horatio Alger Society, which is holding its annual convention in Fredericksburg this coming weekend, looked for a student to honor who embodied the self-reliance, perseverance and strength of character Alger wrote about, counselors nominated Nassari.

“From my interactions with Beheshta, she is a very respectful and kind individual,” said Tiffany McGillivray, counselor at James Monroe. “She holds true to her faith and values her family. She is diligent in her studies … [and] I wholeheartedly believe she is a deserving student for this award.

Jack Bales, emeritus librarian at the University of Mary Washington, is hosting the Alger event. He contacted other society board members, who agreed that Nassari is the perfect choice for its “Strive and Succeed” award and scholarship of at least $500.

Bales read every single one of more than 100 books penned by the author in the mid-19th century. The belief that hard work leads to success struck a chord with him and his eight brothers and sisters, who all had jobs in high school and worked their way through college.

As he’s learned the background of this year’s award winner, Bales has come to believe that Nassari’s story rivals any of the obstacles faced by characters in Alger’s books.

“She clearly out-Algers Horatio Alger,” he said. Read more. 

Bales Continues Research and Writing in Retirement

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Jack Bales, Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus, has been keeping busy since he retired last August after more than 40 years at the UMW Library. His article, “‘He will do just what is best, no doubt’: William Hulbert’s Calculated Dismantling of the Chicago Base Ball Association,” was published in Base Ball 12: New Research on the Early Game (2021). Using original documents and primary sources such as the baseball club’s 1876 corporate charter, newspaper articles, and Hulbert’s letters and business records, the author details how the baseball club president shut down the Chicago Base Ball Association and, in so doing, disenfranchised many of its investors so he could form the new Chicago Ball Club. Base Ball is an annual peer-reviewed book series that promotes the study of the sport’s early history by publishing original research and analysis. Bales will discuss his work at the eleventh annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell Nineteenth Century Base Ball Conference, to be held virtually from April 22–24. He will also participate in a panel discussion on Chicago baseball executive and National League President William Hulbert.

Bales’s latest book, The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series, is scheduled for publication on June 21 by The History Press of Charleston, South Carolina. Using books, newspaper articles, memoirs, interviews, court records, archival documents, and never-before-published photographs, the author traces the story of how a young Chicago woman unwittingly set in motion events that indirectly changed baseball history.

Bales spoke on the nineteenth-century children’s author Horatio Alger, Jr. in February for UMW’s William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series. He has published many works on Alger over the years and will host the convention of the Horatio Alger Society, a book collectors’ organization, here in Fredericksburg from June 3–6.

Bales Pens Editorial on Horatio Alger for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales penned an editorial in The Free Lance-Star on children’s novelist Horatio Alger that ran in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on Feb. 16. View the lecture here.

NO AUTHOR of children’s books during the last 30 years of the 19th century was more popular than Horatio Alger Jr. (1832–1899). In subsequent decades, his stereotypical “rags-to-riches” narratives became so familiar that in our own times, the term “Horatio Alger story” has come to be commonly used as shorthand for a person who, through diligence and hard work, rises from poverty to achieve notable success.

The author himself was born in 1832 in Revere, Mass., the son of a Harvard-educated Unitarian minister. Intending to follow in his father’s footsteps, Horatio Jr. graduated from Harvard in 1852.

The several years after graduation, however, were marked by Alger’s indecisive search for a career. Although he was preparing for the ministry, he had a longing to write. His first works, mostly short stories and poems, were aimed at adults. Read more.

Virtual ‘Great Lives’ Season Showcases UMW Faculty Expertise

In a year when many are sticking close to home, the upcoming William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture season, now in its 18th year, will be virtual this spring, returning to its roots by featuring the expertise of University of Mary Washington faculty. Authorities in their respective fields, they will chronicle the lives of Goethe […]

Faculty Members Receive Emeritus Status

The 2020-21 school year will start with five noticeable voids as long-serving faculty leave the University of Mary Washington with emeritus status. The College of Education will say goodbye to professors George R. Meadows and Leslie Jo Tyler, the Department of Theatre and Dance will do the same with Professor Helen M. Housley, and two Jacks – Kramer and Bales – are departing the College of Arts and Sciences.

Professor of Education Emeritus George Meadows

Professor Emeritus of Education George Meadows

George Meadows came to Mary Washington in 1997 not only with an Ed.D. from West Virginia University, but also with a wealth of teaching experience. After earning degrees in geology – a bachelor’s from Marshall University and a master’s from Emory University – the West Virginia native served more than two years with the Peace Corps as a lecturer in geology at the National University of Malaysia, where he taught in the local language.

Meadows was an early adapter to technology. Known today for his instructional technology skills, he was already teaching online in the 1990s when he was research instructor for a National Science Foundation-funded project to support K-12 science teachers across a large geographic area. At Mary Washington, he was as likely to help faculty as students on use of technology, said longtime colleague Professor of Education Marie Sheckels.

She said that Meadows’ students loved his classes and appreciated the opportunities he gave them to explore new technologies, instructional equipment and hands-on material. She said his career demonstrated “he is a generous person who enjoys sharing his knowledge, expertise and excitement for learning with others.”

Meadows has focused in recent years on community outreach in the development of technology and makerspaces in local schools and libraries. He volunteers to support environmental education and STEM studies for the Fredericksburg area’s diverse, low-income children, and he plans to continue both in retirement.

Professor Emeritus of Education Leslie Jo Tyler

Professor Emeritus of Education Leslie Jo Tyler

Leslie Jo Tyler was hired in 1999 for a new master of education post-baccalaureate program in what was then the Mary Washington College of Graduate and Professional Studies. She “single-handedly directed the development” of UMW’s program to prepare classroom teachers to support English language learners – just when the need was taking off in the Fredericksburg area, according to Professor of Education Jane L. Huffman in a tribute to her colleague.

A linguist with a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master of education from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Florida, Tyler taught linguistics, sociolinguistics, cross-cultural communication, phonetics, phonology and other courses.

Huffman said that Tyler’s students recognized her demanding standards, just as they recognized her excellence. She became known for hosting annual gatherings so graduates and area professionals could get to know one another and share knowledge and best practices.

“Jo embodies the standards of quality, principles of innovation, and collaboration that are at the core of our programs,” Huffman said.

Professor Emeritus of Theatre Helen Housley

Professor Emeritus of Theatre Helen Housley

In her two decades at Mary Washington, Helen Housley directed 29 productions and was the department’s primary vocal instructor and coach. She taught an impressive variety of theater courses and stepped forward to develop a first-year seminar, which she taught every fall since its inception, according to Gregg Stull, department chair and professor of theater. An example of Housley’s devotion to her craft is that she volunteered over the years to watch thousands of high-schoolers audition for UMW Theatre.

An expert in the Lessac technique of voice, speech and movement training, Housley holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, a master of arts from Western Illinois University, and a bachelor of arts from St. Mary’s College.

In a tribute to Housley, Stull said the department in 2019 scheduled Much Ado About Nothing just so his colleague could direct her favorite Shakespeare comedy before retiring. Rehearsals were under way when the pandemic hit, and the production seemed doomed.

But Housley’s show went on. She innovated and directed the performance via Zoom. More than 1,500 people in 37 states and five countries watched a livestream of the performance, and thousands more saw it on YouTube.

“I never would have imagined when we left campus on March 12 that this semester, in all of its uncertainty, would reveal to me, yet again, Helen’s gifts as a teacher, director and colleague. But it has,” Stull said. “Helen ends her career at UMW in the same way she has lived it for the last 20 years – by giving tirelessly to our department and selflessly to our students, demanding as much from all of us as she does from herself. Such is her hallmark of excellence.”

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jack Kramer is retiring with numerous distinctions after half a century at Mary Washington. During his long tenure, Kramer served as visiting professor of strategy and policy at the United States Naval War College, research fellow for the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, senior fellow for the National Defense University, and Fulbright-Hayes Fellow in the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

After earning an undergraduate degree at LaSalle College and a master’s at the University of Virginia, Kramer received a doctorate in political science and Soviet area studies from U.Va., where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a DuPont Fellow and a University Fellow. In 2002, the Virginia Social Science Association named him the “Outstanding Political Scientist of Virginia,” and UMW awarded its 2006 Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching to Kramer. He wrote The Energy Gap in Eastern Europe (D.C. Heath, 1990) and numerous articles and professional papers on political life in Communist and Post-Communist polities in Europe. In addition, he was the longtime co-leader of Mary Washington’s unique study-abroad program called European Capitals.

“I’m a happy camper,” Kramer declared on the eve of his retirement. “I’ve had a good run [having] been blessed with many fine colleagues and wonderful students and been paid to teach and write about a subject I still find fascinating and gripping.”

His colleague and current department chair, Professor Elizabeth Freund Larus, said Kramer, longtime chair, “has been the cornerstone of the department … building a collegial environment in which we all appreciate what each of us contributes to the department and the discipline.”

Kramer added: “I had never heard of Mary Washington – or Fredericksburg, for that matter – before I came here; I took the job because we were dead broke and desperately needed money.”

He used that experience as a life lesson for his students, many of whom have gone on to fill high-ranking government positions. “It’s good to plan,” Kramer said, “but don’t obsess about it.” He added, “Life works in funny ways and much of what happens in it is purely serendipitous so be open and receptive to unanticipated opportunities and seize the moment to exploit them.”

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

After four decades at Mary Washington, Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales has retired from the University of Mary Washington. But the meticulous researcher and expert on the history of baseball won’t quit studying and writing about his beloved Chicago Cubs.

“What am I going to do without Jack?” asked University Librarian Rosemary Arneson, his friend and colleague. Bales has led about 100 research sessions for students annually, she said, and his Citing Sources is UMW Libraries’ most popular guide, with over 6,000 hits. Faculty depend on him for support, too, including some of his former students who now teach at their alma mater.

“He is happiest when he is in the library early on a Saturday morning, poring over the microfilm of early Chicago newspapers, and he loves nothing else so much as a good footnote,” Arneson said in a tribute to Bales.

The Positivity Post, a UMW student-led weekly newsletter designed to spread good news during the gloomy COVID-19 days, recently described Bales as a UMW “institution.” The article went on to say that Writing Center director Gwen Hale once hailed Jack Bales as “the Mick Jagger of librarians.” A student countered, according to the article, ‘‘Mick Jagger is the Jack Bales of rock and roll!”

In 2019, Bales released Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team, published by McFarland & Co. A book about the life of Violet Popovich, the woman who shot Cub Billy Jurges, will be published later this year by The History Press. Bales’ books include literary studies on American authors Horatio Alger Jr., Kenneth Roberts (Northwest Passage), and Esther Forbes (Johnny Tremain).

In addition, he’s written extensively about the late Southern author Willie Morris, who is best known for his award-winning North Toward Home and the memoir My Dog Skip, which was made into a popular film. Morris and Bales became friends, leading to Morris’ memorable guest lectures at Mary Washington in 1998, during which he captivated students, faculty and community members.

“Jack is much more than a great teacher and researcher,” Arneson said. “He is a generous colleague, always willing to take an extra shift on the reference desk or to offer words of praise. We will all miss him greatly. And we hope he doesn’t have to wait another 100 years to see the Cubs win the World Series again.”