Well, I started in in earnest on my Mt. Clemens - Baseball Rehab research a couple of weeks ago.
I did a search of the term "clemens" in the "Sporting Life" archives at the LA84 site and got 60 pages of hits.
I tried a similar search in "The Sporting News", but as many have already known or found out, the search feature in The Paper of Record scans is poor and after going through a couple of pages of results, I found about 90% false finds. I may go back and go though it again, but for now I am going to pass.
As for searching other newspapers, I am not sure how well that is going to go. Searching for "Clemens" in this era in a non-sporting paper is going to get me alot of Samuel Clemens citings, which although he may well have gone to Mt. Clemens himself, is not going to do me much good.
When I expanded the search to "Mt Clemens" or "Mount Clemens", I get alot of folks coming or going to Mt. Clemens and other stories related to Mt. Clemens. I could go down that search path, but I am not sure I want to spend that much time looking for those needles in the haystack.
In the meantime, I trekked over to Mt. Clemens, about a 45 minute drive East of where I live to do some "reconnaissance" on what materials and people there might be of help.
I first went to the Mt. Clemens Library and was directed to their research room and talked with one of their volunteers (Dennis) and he directed me to their microfilm, primarily a newspaper called the Mt. Clemens Monitor. This paper was one of the precursors (is this the right word) to the current day Macomb Daily. Unfortunately, it has not been scanned, and will require quite a bit of scanning/staring to gain any useful info. I did look at some pages of 1904 just to get a feel for the day to day (or was it week to week) content of the paper to see if there was any types of typical information I could look for when I dove in in earnest. One possible area is a section which documents visitors to the various bathhouses for a given week. These may well be just listing those people whose social standing made it "important" to be documented as being there. I have noticed over the years of my various research that in that era (late 19th/early 20th), it was typical of local papers to have a social section which documented people either visiting the city or locals going to visit another locale. Seems rather quaint nowadays for a local paper (at least in the bigger cities), but was quite normal at the time.
Anyway, the one in the Monitor lists the visitors by bathhouse/spa/resort and as I found out from conversations with a couple of the Mt Clemens Historical Society folks, where and which spa you stayed at said alot about your social standing.
Since my visit to Mt. Clemens, I have gotten through the 60 search pages from Sporting Life and have saved off the pertinent pages. I have about 110 citings currently, some are in essence multiple citings of the same player making the same visit (e.g. Going to Mt. Clemens, Back from Mt. Clemens, recovered from last winter's visit, etc.) Some citings are in regards to anticipated visits, while others are about being there for a given time period, and, of course, some are after they came back from there.
What I am thinking about doing is taking the SL citings and their dates and cross-checking those against similar dates in the Monitor to see if I can identify which spa/bathhouse each player stayed at.
Could be a longshot, depending on whether the newspapers writers/editors deemed the individual ball player "worthy" of inclusion in their weekly rosters. We'll see.
In the meantime, I am starting to give some thought on how I am planning on framing the research article. Here are some of my initial thinking:
1. Mineral Baths in the late 19th/early 20th and their recuperative powers - a history of the evolution including other prominent Mineral Springs in the US (and if earlier, outside of the US) including Hot Springs, Sulphur Springs, French Lick, etc.
2. Ballplayers and the mineral baths in general - Various methods of rehab in the era, Bonesetter Reese (?), Spring Training in Hot Springs, etc.
3. Mt. Clemens Mineral Springs - a brief history of the rise of "Bath City", There is some good info on their home page as well as an ebook history in which I downloaded the "Bath Era" section.
4. Ballplayers and Mt. Clemens - visits over the years (including Babe Ruth, of course). I may try to add a "before and after" for each visit to show if the visit improved their malady/performance (not sure what metric, but will be partially playing time as well as a "SABR" metric. Of course, will include the reason for the visit where it is documented.
5. The decline of Mineral Baths at Mt. Clemens and all over and the reasons - advances in pharma, Depression, etc.
6. Summary, conclusions, unanswered questions.
As always, for those who actually do read this blog (besides myself), if you have any thoughts, insight, or comments, they are always welcome. And thanks for reading.
- Jonathan Frankel
- I am a long time baseball fan who became interesting in documenting the "missing" batter strikeouts a few years back as an outgrowth of my interest in the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Grew up w/ the Big Red Machine. I now follow them and my new hometown, Detroit Tigers. Member of SABR off and on since 1979.
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