“Baseball breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart.” -Bart Giamatti

Well does he know it, as does the rest of us. We have special knowledge of it here in Cincinnati, but short of Cooperstown, there are few places all Americans can gather as a nation to discuss such things. But I found a temporary one, and it’s free, so there’s plenty left over for beer and ammo.

Party destination:  The Library of Congress.

I know, right? I’m an English major and I never set foot in it, even when living in DC, even when I found out it has actual books in it. I was under the impression it was off-limits to non-Congressional scrubs such as myself, and that it was constructed in the Age of Public Ugly and thereby reflected everything bad about the 1970s, which was everything.


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This is my favorite picture. Look how this particular exhibit room is also a repository for a tiny sliver of the Library’s collection. They have book storage problems, just like me! They have to load them next to their stained glass skylights and life-sized Ty Cobb cut-outs!

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And for the next few months, also baseball.

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But this is what I really came to gaze upon. You’ve probably seen a reprint of this, or maybe copies of it in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, but I promise you haven’t laid eyes on such a vibrant, pristine copy:

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The Library of Congress requires no filters. Or salary caps.

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I learned that here in Cincinnati, we are long since known for our progressive attitudes towards openly professional games.

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What I like best about the Baseball Americana exhibit is that it completely avoids delicate and furor-inducing questions.

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This is an issue we all agree upon, anyway.

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Most of all, I like remembering that we all leave our mark in this world in different ways. Some of us more legibly than others.

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12 Responses

  1. David

    Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Guess what they have playing on a loop in the center of the exhibit.

      • David

        Whatever it is, thanks for writing your column. You’re a pearl of the world, Mary Beth.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Awwwww thanks! I need that. Bless. 🙂

  2. Mary Beth Ellis

    The price is unbeatable 🙂

  3. Scott C

    Here I live about 2 hours from DC and have been to several of the Smithsonian Museums, been to the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII and Viet Nam memorials but never to the Library of Congress. Do you know how long the baseball exhibit will be there? Liked your comment. Go Reds.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      RIght?! My bestie was even a librarian with the National Archives and I had NO idea about that joint! Can’t wait to return and explore more. I hope you have a chance to go!

  4. Eric

    Amazing pics – glad you got to enjoy it! Maybe I can get the fam on a train to DC in the spring and we can see it, too.

    Wish I had higher hopes for Adam Dunn’s chances of being enshrined in Cooperstown. Now, Reds HOF on the other hand… 🙂

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you– I hope you can get out there. I spent the entire time just staring up and around. No justice from the pictures.

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    Thanks! Although if you’d like to enjoy my longer work without the time commitment, consider printing and strategic placement in the bathroom.
    You wouldn’t be the first.

  6. Mary Beth Ellis

    It was! I stumbled into the LoC from pictures in a book about religious imagery on Capitol Hill and I was like, how have I missed this?! Thrilled when I discovered that the baseball exhibit happened to be there!