May 24, 2024

Bales Fills Retirement With Research and Writing

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Jack Bales’ vocation for more than 40 years was assisting students, faculty, and staff in Mary Washington’s library. His avocation, research and writing, was always an important part of his life as well, and now that he’s retired, the Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus happily stays busy with these interests. Bales continues to present Zoom PowerPoint programs to baseball groups and public libraries around the country on 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 (History Press, 2021). He is an active member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and has presented several Zoom programs on assorted baseball topics. He is also an occasional moderator of a SABR book discussion group devoted to the sport during the nineteenth century.

Bales has always liked to focus on topics about which little has been written, as he enjoys digging around in primary, original sources and uncovering new information that sheds light on the historical record. While working on his 2019 book, Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team, he read about Lewis Meacham, a Chicago Daily Tribune sports editor who helped William Hulbert of the White Stockings (the team now known as the Chicago Cubs) found the National League in 1876. Very little was known about Meacham, but Bales tracked down invaluable material in both newspapers and Chicago and Vermont archives. He gave a PowerPoint presentation, “The Mysterious Lewis Meacham: The Untold Story of William Hulbert’s Right-Hand Man,” at a SABR meeting and also wrote an essay on him for the organization’s peer-reviewed Biography Project, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/lewis-meacham/

Bales said that it took many months of research, as most of what was published was inaccurate, including a fictitious Civil War record. “You know you are going to have a rough time of it,” he recently observed, “when biographical sources for the person you are writing about provide assorted birth dates, various names, two birth places, two burial spots, and even two entries in the popular website “Find a Grave,” both of them incorrect.”

Bales hosted the annual convention of the Horatio Alger Society in Fredericksburg in 2021, 2022, and 2023. He will host it again this May.  Among the persons attending will be Michael Dirda, the weekly book columnist for the Washington Post.

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 History.com, 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 History.com 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 (History.com)

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 […]