Collection Runs the Bases of Baseball History

A new display at the San Diego Central Library has hit a home run with local fans

By Andie Adams and Greg Bledsoe
|  Sunday, Feb 16, 2014  |  Updated 4:57 AM PDT
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The Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center at San Diego's Central Library has received a dream gift. NBC 7's Greg Bledsoe explains why.

The Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center at San Diego's Central Library has received a dream gift. NBC 7's Greg Bledsoe explains why.

Outside of Cooperstown New York, the world's largest collection of baseball research materials will be found in a library in San Diego.

Workers have had more than 15 tons of baseball memorabilia to sift through, and they put best of the best on display Saturday at the Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center on the 8th floor of the new San Diego Central Library.

The collection comes from Northern California resident William Weiss, who was a long time minor league baseball statistician and historian. His family donated the memorabilia to the center after Weiss’ death in 2011.

Tom Larwin, who was tasked with going through the enormous collection, said it was like Christmas when the 600 boxes arrived on the research center’s doorstep.

“The collection we're receiving today goes back to the 1870s: books, periodicals, newspapers, score sheets, raw data,” Larwin said.

Weiss started compiling baseball statistics as a child in the 1930s. He eventually made it a career for various minor leagues across the country, even remodeling his house just to store it all.

“And now we’re going through it all, and every day we find a nugget of rare material,” Larwin said, still in awe.

Some of the material is so old, its authors spell “base ball” with two words. It even harkens back to the era when major and minor league players filled out hand-written questionaires at the end of their first season.

According to Larwin, Weiss’ family decided to send the collection to the Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center because “it’s the ultimate.” Its shelves hold the largest collection of baseball research materials in the world, outside the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Now, I think we’re going to be the best in the world,” said Larwin.

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