John Thorn Speaks at LOC on The Origins of Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball

Don’t Miss…
The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball 
Sat, July 14, 2018
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion
Thomas Jefferson Building, ground floor
10 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20540
The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball
John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, will discuss original documents from the landmark 1857 meeting of New York baseball clubs that established the rules of the modern game. Recently rediscovered, the “Laws of Base Ball” manuscripts will be on view in “Baseball Americana” beginning June 29, 2018.
Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or Registration for the program is also required.
About the Summer of Baseball Programming:
A vintage baseball clinic based on the game’s 19th-century rules, a children’s performance about African-American ballplayers, a conversation with “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis and a screening of the popular film “Field of Dreams” will highlight a summer of programs to accompany the new exhibition “Baseball Americana” at the Library of Congress.
Baseball Americana Family Day on Saturday, July 14, will present a daylong series of free baseball-themed events and activities for visitors of all ages. The day will include a vintage baseball clinic based on the rules of the game from the 19th century; “Black Diamond,” a play for children from Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater about some of the game’s first black players; a demonstration on the craft of bat making; and a presentation about the original “Laws of Base Ball” by Major League Baseball’s official historian. All events will take place at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.
Learn more here.

A pioneer charts his own course

The Washington Post    25 Jun 2018
BY GENE WANG IN PULLMAN, WASH.        Read Full Article Here.


Athletic Director Pat Chun arrived at footballmad Washington State after more than five years as Florida Atlantic’s athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five,” he says.

From the time he began playing sports as a young boy with neighborhood buddies, Pat Chun stood out as the only Asian American on the block. It’s no different professionally for Chun, who has grown accustomed to being the only Asian American in the room since he started in athletics administration.

The pioneering athletic director at Washington State frequently deploys humor as a way to address that distinction. He may offer an amusing anecdote about growing up as the only son of Korean immigrants, with a father who taught taekwondo — “talk about stereotypical,” Chun said, chuckling — and a mother who worked as a grocery-store clerk.

Or he may elicit laughter by mentioning some of the travails linked to a career in which Asian Americans have been underrepresented to such a degree that, through 15 years as an understudy at Ohio State, his alma mater, he had no one of his or any other Asian ethnicity to count as a mentor.

“Let me put it this way,” said Chun, 43, who arrived at Washington State in February following 51/ years as Florida Atlantic’s

2 athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five.”

Like many Asian American children of his generation, Chun’s parents pushed him to be a doctor or a lawyer. But Chun knew neither of those occupations was for him after taking a liking to sports as a child in the Cleveland suburbs.

Athletics served as a vehicle for Chun to assimilate. His friends were white, and Chun shared a love of sports with them. They collected and traded baseball cards and gathered to watch football games on television. His closest friends remain those with

he played football in junior high and high school.

Still, his peers occasionally reminded Chun that he wasn’t exactly the same. He hasn’t forgotten the slanty-eye gestures or teasing in a mocking Asian accent.

“The joking comments that were made to you growing up would not be tolerated today,” he said.

Even as Chun immersed himself in sports, his mother, a classically trained pianist, was far more concerned with him practicing the violin. Eventually, she relented, allowing Chun to drop violin lessons in the sixth grade to concentrate more on sports. All the while, she remained skeptical about his career choice, even as he began moving up as an administrator at Ohio State.

“You’d have to be an Asian American to understand this,” said Chun, whose parents divorced when he was in the eighth grade. “Like a lot of Asian parents, they put this crazy emphasis on college and dreams of Ivy League schools and things like that.”

When Chun and his wife, Natalie, a former Buckeyes softball player, were discussing starting a family, his mother didn’t hesitate to offer more advice.

“This is 2002, 2003, and I’m already well into my athletic career, and we were talking about having a baby, and my mom pulls me aside and says, ‘ Hey, if you guys are going to have kids, you really need to start thinking about getting a real job,’ ” Chun said, laughing. “At that point, you know you’re not going to win that debate with your mom. It’s like: ‘Mom, just trust me. I’m on a great path here.’ ”

‘A modern success story’

When the news of his hiring at Washington State became public, Chun began receiving emails from Asian American administrators and coaches from other schools congratulating him.

Much of that correspondence came from well-wishers he had yet to meet in person. Still, Chun indicated, he couldn’t help but feel an unspoken kinship given his position of prominence within the small community of Asian Americans involved in college athletics.

“Pat, like a lot of successful people, he’s so focused on doing what he needs to do that I think he sometimes maybe isn’t as proud of that as he needs to be,” Washington State President Kirk Schulz said. “Pat’s a little bit humble that way. He’s just a modern success story.”

Chun gained a reputation as a skilled fundraiser at Ohio State, having overseen record contributions to the Buckeyes’ athletic department that included $42 million in 2012 and $41 million the previous year. A “relationship builder” was how former Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, who gave Chun his first job as an intern, described his protege.

He became athletic director at Florida Atlantic in 2012, and three years later, the school announced the largest single gift in its history: $16 million. With Washington State’s athletic department facing a budget deficit of $67 million, according to a recently released internal audit, Schulz made it his priority hiring a candiwhom date with a deft fundraising touch.

As an added benefit, Chun had hired Lane Kiffin to be FAU’s football coach in December 2016. Chun’s experience dealing with the occasionally controversial Kiffin reassured Schulz and other Washington State officials that he could forge a fruitful working relationship with the Cougars’ colorful football coach, Mike Leach.

Chun flew to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for an initial off-campus interview in January, volunteering to be the first of eight candidates to meet with the search committee. Six of the semifinalists, according to Schulz, were sitting athletic directors. The other was a top deputy Schulz said would be one in the near future.

“When you start getting more involved, then it hits you: ‘Wow, no one really looks like you,’ ” Chun said. “You never really quantify these things until you start competing for jobs and you’re trying to get to different levels of your career. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ It does hit you.”

The conversation with Chun left such a positive impression, Schulz recalled, that one member of the search committee, minutes after Chun left the room, said with the utmost sincerity, “I think we’re done.”

‘It means a little bit more’

Chun was to be introduced at Washington State on Jan. 17, but university officials pushed the ceremony back a week because of a tragedy that had left the campus reeling. The day before Chun’s originally scheduled news conference, Tyler Hilinski, a redshirt sophomore quarterback on track to start for the Cougars this season, committed suicide in his Pullman apartment.

The sensitivity with which Chun navigated those tragic circumstances endeared him to the football program, the athletic department and the Washington State community, colleagues said.

Continue reading the article HERE.

5 Jewish baseball players hit home runs on the same day

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers connecting for his second home run of the game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, June 8, 2018. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

By Ron Kaplan         

(JTA) — June 8 was the most productive day for Jewish batters in Major League Baseball history.

Five members of the tribe combined for six home runs on Friday to help their respective teams to victory. Here’s the scorecard:

Ryan Braun, “The Hebrew Hammer,” hit two home runs, driving in five runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 12-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies — who have a Jewish manager in Gabe Kapler. Braun’s three-run shot with two outs in the first inning broke a scoreless tie. His two-run homer, again with two outs, left Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Ballpark with an exit velocity of 112.9 miles per hour, according to the new high-tech analytics. It’s the hardest ball Braun has hit since they started measuring these things in 2015.

Kevin Pillar, the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder who is known more for his outstanding defensive play than his skills at the plate, hit his sixth homer of the year and third in seven games in a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. His eighth-inning solo shot gave the Blue Jays their final run. Danny Valencia, the third baseman for the O’s that night, was the only Jewish position player not to hit one out on Friday.

Alex Bregman hit his eighth home run, a solo drive, in the Houston Astros’ 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers. The Astros selected his younger brother A.J. in the recent MLB draft, so it’s conceivable they could become the first set of Jewish brothers to play on the same team since Norm and Larry Sherry were members of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1962.


CONTINUE reading the article here.

Aviva offers two presentations for SABR 48 Convention in Pittsburgh, PA

SABR 48 National Convention
June 20-24, 2018
Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh
600 Commonwealth Place Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Aviva Kempner will be participating in two presentations
at the SABR 48 National Convention.

“Collusion and Collision: Hank Greenberg in Pittsburgh in 1947”


“Moe Berg: All-Star Espionage?” Work-in-progress screening.

Learn more about the convention here


“Collusion and Collision: Hank Greenberg in Pittsburgh in 1947”

When: Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 1:15 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Where: Grand Ballroom 1
With: John Thorn, Official Sports Historian and Bijan C. Bayne, Sports Historian

aboutpic1For decades, an unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” kept professional baseball segregated. Hank Greenberg, in the final year of his career, showed solidarity with African-American players and helped signify necessary change. This discussion will put the gentlemen’s agreement in the context of other open secrets between team owners and elaborate why Greenberg was in a unique position to empathize with marginalized athletes. In 1947, Tigers team owner Walter Briggs colluded with other team owners to exile Greenberg to the National League. Greenberg was disillusioned enough to quit the game that he loved, but the Pittsburgh Pirates’ owners enticed him to return. They installed a new bullpen, nicknamed “Greenberg Gardens,” in Forbes Field to make it easier for him to hit home runs and offered him the first ever $100,000 baseball contract. Greenberg, as a Jew who suffered anti-Semitic insults from fans and rival players, was in a unique position to relate to the young Jackie Robinson in May of 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Pirates. During the game, Robinson and Greenberg collided at first base. Greenberg checked that Robinson was not hurt and offered the rookie player encouragement. Footage will contextualize this discussion of business practices and racism of the time, as well as shifting norms. Kempner, Thorn and Bayne will also examine contemporary ownership and racism in baseball.

Aviva Kempner makes award-winning documentaries about underknown Jewish heroes. Kempner is finishing a documentary on Moe Berg, the catcher who spied for the U.S. during World War Two. She made Rosenwald, a documentary about Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald’s partnership with Booker T. Washington in building 5,000 schools for African Americans in the Jim Crow South; Yoo-Ho Mrs. Goldberg, about Gertrude Berg, who created the first television sitcom; and the Emmy nominated and Peabody awarded The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, about the Hall Famer slugger who faced anti-Semitism during the ’30s. She also produced the Partisans of Vilna, about Jews fighting the Nazis.

John Thorn <> is the Official Historian of Major League Baseball and the author of many baseball books.

Bijan C. Bayne is a sports historian who has researched, written for, and been interviewed in various films and television shows. He appears in the 2017 movie The First to Do It. In April 2014, he appeared on TV One’s Unsung Hollywood’s episode “The Harlem Globetrotters.” The same year, he was interviewed and featured in Brian Culkin’s documentary The Mission. In 2015, Bayne co-wrote, directed, and helped cast the pilot for the reality series Team of Dreams. In August 2009, he served as moderator for the Filmmakers’ Panel at the seventh annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival(on the topic “Black Film in The Age of Obama”). He has written and presented extensively on Black baseball, and the Latin American contribution to the game.

“Moe Berg: All-Star Espionage?”

When: Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 6:40 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Where: Grand Ballroom 2

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 1.51.31 PM
Moe Berg, Photo: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Filmmaker Aviva Kempner will show a 24-minute work in progress clip, entitled “Moe Berg: All-Star Espionage?”, that highlights Berg’s first trip to Japan with Herb Hunter, Lefty O’Doul and Ted Lyons to teach baseball seminars at Japanese universities and later his return to Japan in 1934 for an exhibition tour with All-Star players Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Gomez. The completed full-length documentary film will be ready in 2019.

Moe Berg: All-Star Espionage? Work-in-Progress Screening

On Sunday, May 6, 2018, the Ciesla Foundation screened a work-in-progress titled “Moe Berg: All-Star Espionage?” to a full house at the Edlavitch DCJCC at the 38 th Washington Jewish Film Festival.

The 23-minute clip highlighted Berg’s first trip to Japan with Herb Hunter, Lefty O’Doul and Ted Lyons to teach baseball seminars at Japanese universities and later his return to Japan in 1934 for an exhibition tour with All Stars Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Gomez. The work in progress posed the question of what Berg was doing when he sneaked onto the roof of St. Luke’s hospital to film the city skyline with his Bell & Howell?

The work -in-progress clip included home movies from Lefty Gomez, Jimmie Foxx, and original Moe Berg footage in Japan. Included was interviews with; Robert Fitts, Author of Banzai Babe Ruth, Sam Berg, Moe’s brother, Irwin Berg, Moe’s cousin, sports columnist Ira Berkow, Vernona Gomez, daughter of Lefty Gomez, Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of Babe Ruth, Hank Thomas, grandson of Walter Johnson, baseball greats Elden Auker, Joseph Cascarella, Tommy Thomas, Charlie Wagner, Monte Weaver and many more.

A highlight of the morning screening was Aviva Kempner introducing the audience to both Katie Banas, Vernon Louis “Lefty” Gomez’s great granddaughter and Hank Thomas, grandson and biographer of Walter Johnson.

Grandson and biographer of Walter Johnson, Hank Thomas (left)  and great granddaughter of Lefty Gomez , Katie Banas (right)

After the screening, director Aviva Kempner, Hank Thomas, grandson and biographer of Walter Johnson, and Intelligence Analyst Richard Willing joined together for a lively panel discussion. Aviva provided a glimpse into additional aspects of the full-length Moe Berg documentary in production and Hank Thomas shared stories of Moe Berg babysitting his mother during Washington Senator ball games. Richard Willing expounded on Moe’s breadth of knowledge and how he seemed to impress everyone he came in contact with.

Richard Willing, Aviva Kempner, Hank Thomas

We want to thank everyone for coming! Stay tuned for additional updates


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Frank Monteleone, a radio operative for Moe Berg in Italy during WWII dies at 93.

Our condolences to the family of Frank Monteleone who passed away on April 19th, 2018. Last year in May of 2017, Aviva Kempner interviewed Frank about his time in Rome, Italy during WWII. Frank served as a radio operator for Moe Berg to send messages in code to the Allies. Berg had been sent by the OSS to interview Italian scientists on what they knew about Germany’s effort to develop the atomic bomb.

Frank Monetelone's OSS Identification Card
Frank Montelone’s OSS Identification Card

In his interview, Frank described to Aviva how he had to hide in the attic in an Italian villa with his radio equipment and first translate the messages from English to Italian and send the messages in cypher code to the Allies and then in the reverse when messages came back. Frank told Aviva that Moe Berg was a mysterious man and that it wasn’t until later he learned that Moe was a professional baseball player.

Frank's Interview Footage
Frank Montelone’s interview footage for Aviva Kempner’s film on Moe Berg.

Patrick O’Donnell in Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs describes Frank’s work in the Maritime Unit as part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) He writes that “ Frank did it all, parachuting behind the lines, infiltrating by sea on silent motorized floating mattresses, and stealthily collecting and radioing back enemy intelligence.”

Moe Berg Work in Progress Screening May 6, 2018

May 6, 2018 at 11:00 am
Edlavitch DCJCC
1529 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Dir. Aviva Kempner | 20 min.
Documentary United States 2018
Sunday, May 6, 2018 – 11:00 AM Edlavitch DCJCC 60 min. program
Morris “Moe” Berg was an enigmatic major-league baseball player who played for five MLB teams, including the Washington Senators, before joining the OSS to spy for the U.S. on the Nazis atomic bomb program.
Berg grew up in an immigrant Jewish family in Newark, NJ. This screening of this clip from Aviva Kempner’s work in progress highlights Berg’s exhibition tour with Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Japan in 1934.
20 minutes of the work-in-progress film will be shown, followed by a discussion with director Aviva Kempner, intelligence analyst Richard Willing, and Henry “Hank” Thomas, biographer of Walter Johnson (and his grandson).
This event is free to attend.


The OSS Gold Medal Ceremony

The OSS Gold Medal Ceremony

Morris “Moe” Berg and the 13,000 heroic men and women of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) finally received a well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, March 21st during a moving ceremony in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall. In true OSS style, the ceremony went on in spite of a Federal Government shutdown for a snow emergency.

Along with Charles Pinck, President of the OSS Society, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate delivered remarks honoring the OSS members during a live streaming of the event. Members of the OSS and their extended families came from all over the U.S. and attended receptions in their honor Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. More congressional members spoke during the Wednesday evening rooftop reception.

The medal was finally bestowed after many years of lobbying spearheaded by the OSS Society under the fine leadership of Charles Pinck, whose father had served in the OSS in China. The Congressional medal, the nation’s highest civilian distinction, was conferred collectively and recognizes the members of the OSS, the WWII intelligence agency and CIA predecessor for their superior service and major contributions during World War II. The OSS included both military personnel and civilians. Women comprised more than one-third of the OSS personnel and many of America’s leading scientists and scholars also served. One side of the medal represents the range of work undertaken by the OSS and features the inscription “OSS” with a woman, a paratrooper, and a man in a suit. The design features the dates “1942-1945” the years during which the OSS operated. The reverse side of the medal features the OSS Spearhead inscribed with code words related to important OSS missions and agents. AZUSA was one of the code words representing a mission Moe Berg participated in.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s included Moe Berg in his remarks delivered during the ceremony: Watch Here.

“As we’ve been hearing today, the ranks of the Office of Strategic Services included quite the cast of characters. There was ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, the visionary leader intent on ‘sowing the dragon’s teeth’ and breeding chaos behind enemy lines. There were celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, and future celebrities like Julia Child; all-star academics, like Arthur Schlesinger…..I’m partial to the story of Moe Berg, an Ivy Leaguer turned journeyman Major League Baseball catcher who gave up trying to hit curveballs and started throwing curveballs to the Nazis. Moe parachuted into occupied Yugoslavia, and he eavesdropped on German physicists.”

Singer Songwriter Mark Russell delighted the ceremony audience with his rendition of “Wild Bill,” a satirical song about the leader of the OSS. The OSS was created in 1942 by the legendary General William “Wild Bill” Donovan to coordinate American intelligence efforts, in its heyday the OSS deployed more than 13,000 operatives in addition to four future CIA directors. Pioneers of sabotage, intelligence gathering, supplying resistance movements, capturing high-value targets and infiltrating enemy strongholds, OSS agents were in Gen. Donovan’s words “glorious amateurs” who undertook “some of the bravest acts of the war.”


Accepting the medal on behalf of all the brave OSS men and women, was William Clarke, an OSS & CIA veteran. He told the audience that around 100 OSS members are still alive.
The OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence during World War II and provided the basis for the modern-day American intelligence and special operations communities. Present day Special Operations Forces trace their lineage to the OSS. The CIA, the Navy SEALs, the Army Special Forces, and the Air Force Special Operations Command all have their precursors in the OSS. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research also traces its creation to the OSS Research and Analysis Branch.

Also speaking at the ceremony were Representatives Robert Latta (OH) and Marcy Kaptur (OH), Nancy Pelosi, (House Democratic Leader) Senators Roy Blunt (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Angus King, (ME), Mitch McConnell, (Majority Leader) and Paul Ryan, (House Speaker).


Pictured is Eugene Polinsky, navigator in the Air force special operations group known as the “Carpetbaggers.”


Pictured is Robert Holmstrom displaying with fellow “Carpetbagger” Bill Becker the silk maps they carried to be informed about the typography of their missions.

The OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence during World War II and provided the basis for the modern-day American intelligence and special operations communities. Present day Special Operations Forces trace their lineage to the OSS. The CIA, the Navy SEALs, the Army Special Forces, and the Air Force Special Operations Command all have their precursors in the OSS. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research also traces its creation to the OSS Research and Analysis Branch.

Also speaking at the ceremony were Representatives Robert Latta (OH) and Marcy Kaptur (OH), Nancy Pelosi, (House Democratic Leader) Senators Roy Blunt (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Angus King, (ME), Mitch McConnell, (Majority Leader) and Paul Ryan, (House Speaker).


Family members enjoyed reuniting with other OSS families who had served together on their missions. The family members of Lt. Col Gerhard L Bolland met the family of William Colby, an OSS member who like others later became the head of the CIA.


At the reception following the ceremony Representative Will Hurd (TX), who had been in the CIA, spoke about his appreciation of the clandestine nature of serving in the OSS.
At the reception many relatives of the OSS members bemoaned the fact that it took 73 years for this Congressional medal to finally be awarded, and they regretted that their deceased family members could not partake in the Congressional recognition.
The stories of these courageous OSS men and women will finally be memorialized when The National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations opens in the future.

We hope the documentary film of Moe Berg will contribute to this important effort.

Click to see the National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations Brochure.


Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day! Today we celebrate the brave and brilliant female figures of the past – which like Moe Berg served in the O.S.S. We’d like to honor in particular the American Intelligence legend Elizabeth P. McIntosh. McIntosh’s memoir “Sisterhood of Spies” highlights her remarkable past as an O.S.S. spy as well as shares the accounts of the under-known troupe of international female combatants such as Virginia Hall (nick-named the “The Limping Lady” because of her wooden leg) or Betty Lussier, known for her double-agent network in France.

a film by Aviva Kempner