SW Reporters and the Cubs

HOLY COW! A Parallel History of Law Librarians and the Chicago Cubs

If there was ever a time to celebrate Chicago’s place in the law library and baseball universes, it was 2016.1 In law libraries, AALL held its 109th Annual Meeting in Chicago, and both the president and a new recipient of the Gallagher Distinguished Service Award hailed from the Windy City. And in baseball, well here’s what a die-hard White Sox fan tweeted at 1:03 a.m. on November 3, 2016: “It happened: @Cubs win World Series. That’s change even this South Sider can believe in. Want to come to the White House before I leave?”

Given my research and writing interests in both law libraries and baseball,2 it’s not surprising that Richard Leiter’s invitation to speak on a topic of law library history during the November 2016 episode of his “Law Librarian Conversations” podcast led to an essay that offered a parallel history of Chicago’s place in the law library profession and the city’s favorite team (at least in 2016), the Chicago Cubs. Since it seemed like Chicago law librarians who did not listen to the podcast might enjoy the essay, I offered the slightly edited version which follows to the editors of the CALL Bulletin.

Before beginning, one caveat. Since I only had about ten minutes of air time on the podcast, it was impossible to do justice to either the Cubs or all those who have contributed to the Chicago law library scene in the past century. So I offered only a few highlights of both, apologizing in advance for all the people and events I was forced to omit. Particularly on the library side since so many of them are professional colleagues and dear personal friends. With that proviso in mind and with apologies to the late, great Harry Caray for stealing his catchphrase,3 here is “HOLY COW! A Parallel History of Law Librarians and the Chicago Cubs.”



We begin in 1906, when ten law librarians responded to an invitation from A. J. Small, the Law and Legislative Reference Librarian of the Iowa State Library, by meeting on July 2, during the American Library Association’s annual conference in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, to formally establish an organization they first called the “Librarians Association” but quickly changed to the American Association of Law Libraries. Twenty-five individuals are considered charter or founding members of AALL: those who attended the first meeting and 15 others who had responded favorably to Small but were not present in Rhode Island. Three from Chicago were among this important group: Frederic B. Crossley of Northwestern University Law School Library; William H. Holden of the Chicago Law Institute; and, most notably, Frederick Schenk of the University of Chicago Law Library, someone we will see again.

On the day Small and the others were forming AALL in Rhode Island, July 2, 1906, the Chicago Cubs were in first place in the eight-team National League, 2.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Featuring the famous double-play combination “Tinker to Evers to Chance” immortalized by Franklin P. Adams in his famous poem, “The Sad Lexicon,”4 the Cubs won 116 games in 1906, and lost only 36, a winning percentage of .763 that is still the best ever in modern major league history. Riding high, the Cubs were heavily favored over the Chicago White Sox in the World Series, but they suffered a 4-2 defeat to a team dubbed the “Hitless Wonders” in what is considered one of the greatest upsets in Series history.5 Still the only World Series between the two Chicago teams, it served as a portent of things to come.


Two years later, in December 1908, AALL published the first issue of the Law Library Journal. AALL charter member Frederick Schenk of Chicago was the managing editor. An unsigned editorial in the first issue, almost certainly written by Schenk, declared that “there will appear in each issue at least one original leading article on a subject of especial interest to law librarians, bibliographies of special legal subjects, and a list of new text books, statutes, and digests published during the quarter. Space will be devoted to errata discovered in legal publications, queries, and replies.”6

On Wednesday, October 14, 1908, two months before the publication of the inaugural issue of Law Library Journal, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers, 2-0, to secure its second consecutive World Series victory, 4 games to one. The team’s future appeared rosy, but although the Cubs will compete in eight more World Series, it will be more than a century—108 years to be precise—before the team’s fans can celebrate another Series triumph.


Jumping ahead twenty years to 1928, Frederick Schenk became the first AALL president from Chicago, serving two terms from 1928 to 1930. This stalwart of the early law library community—he also served on the AALL Executive Board and as vice-president—had a 50-year career in libraries which only ended at his death in 1948. In 2010, a Special Selection Committee made Schenk an inaugural inductee into the AALL Hall of Fame as a “Pioneer.”7

The Cubs were a force in the National League during the two years Schenk served as president. Featuring four future members of the Baseball Hall of Fame—manager Joe McCarthy and players Rogers Hornsby, Gabby Hartnett, and Kiki Cuyler—the Cubs finished in third place in 1928 and then captured the National League pennant in 1929. Unfortunately, the Cubs lost the World Series to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, their third loss in the Fall Classic since the 1908 victory. Such defeats had already become the norm.


Taking another 20-year leap, we move to February 20, 1947, when 17 librarians, representing 10 law school, bar association, court, and law firm libraries, met at the Chicago Bar Association and planned the creation of an organization to be called the Chicago Association of Law Libraries. A month later, on March 20, the organization was formally established, with former AALL president William R. Roalfe, now at Northwestern University Law Library, elected as CALL’s first president. Three months later during AALL’s 40th Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the membership approved CALL as the Association’s third chapter, following the Southeastern and Washington, D.C., groups.8

In 1947, the year CALL was formed, the Cubs finished in sixth place, 25 games behind the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers who were led by barrier-breaking Jackie Robinson. Quite a comedown for a team that just two years earlier had faced the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series, although they lost in what would be the team’s final Series appearance for 71 years. In retrospect, the 1947 club’s biggest “claim to fame” might have been that its roster featured two players shot by women in separate off-field incidents that many say inspired Bernard Malamud’s novel, The Natural. Veteran shortstop Billy Jurges was shot by a spurned lover, Violet Popovich, in 1932,9 and in 1949, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, a mentally unbalanced 19-year-old lured handsome first-baseman Eddie Waitkus to Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel and then shot him in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle.10 Thankfully, both players recovered and resumed their playing careers. But still . . . only the Cubs!


On October 24–25, 1952, the Chicago Association of Law Libraries sponsored a “Workshop on Law Library Problems” at Northwestern University Law School. Its success encouraged AALL to develop its own institutes, the first of which was offered at UCLA in 1953 on the “Fundamentals of Law Library Administration,” under the direction of Miles Price of Columbia University.

A month before the CALL institute, the Cubs completed the 1952 season by shutting out the Cardinals in St. Louis, 3-0. Even with the victory, the Cubs still finished in 5th place, 19.5 games behind the pennant-winning Dodgers and 11 games behind the third-place Redbirds. One bright spot was outfielder Hank (The Honker) Sauer, who received the National League MVP award on the basis of his league-leading 37 home runs and 121 runs batted in.


Let’s move now to June 1964, when the AALL Executive Board finally approved the creation of a permanent headquarters for the Association, to be located in Chicago and staffed on a paid, full-time basis. Former AALL Treasurer William D. Murphy of Kirkland and Ellis in Chicago—known to many as “Mr. AALL”11—served as co-chair of a fund drive to raise $220,000 for headquarters. Within the year, AALL moved into the historic Monadnock Building at 53 W. Jackson Blvd., in the Chicago loop, where it remained for 45 years, until moving to a new location just a few blocks away in spring 2009.

While AALL was busy establishing a headquarters, the Cubs of 1964 finished 8th in the 10-team National League, 17 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. This in spite of a roster that featured four future Hall of Famers—Ernie Banks, Lou Brock, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams. Even worse, the team attracted only 751,000 to its home games, an average of 9,200 per game. Today celebrated as “the Friendly Confines” and frequently sold out, Wrigley Field in 1964 was an anathema to Cubs fans tired of losing. Little did they know that at 19 years, their pennant drought had only just begun.


Time to make a quick stop in 1969, when AALL made the wise decision to lure Antonette “Babe” Russo away from her position with a local publisher to serve as AALL’s administrative secretary, its sole paid staff position at the time. She served in that capacity for twenty years, until her retirement in 1989, solidifying the new headquarters. At her passing in 1994, Bob Berring wrote: “Ms. Russo . . . held us together with baling wire and library paste. She was devoted to the membership and always looking out for our best interests. . . . She was a person who was part of our past and who ushered towards our future with grace and style.”12

Of the ill-fated Cubs in 1969, the team won 92 games and led the National League East for 155 days, but in a September swoon they lost 17 out of 25 games and finished eight behind the “Miracle Mets.” Some forever blamed a black cat that crossed Ron Santo’s path during a game at Shea Stadium, but more knowledgeable analysts criticized manager Leo Durocher for overworking his players, particularly the pitching staff.


Two decades later, in July 1987, Bill Murphy was finally retired, but he still served as chair of the Local Arrangements Committee that welcomed 2400 AALL members to Chicago’s Hyatt Regency Hotel for the Association’s 80th Annual Meeting. In keeping with President Lolly Gasaway’s theme of “We the People,” which honored the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, members of the Executive Board attended the closing banquet dressed in colonial costumes. The evening’s highlight was a “report on law libraries” from “Father Guido Sarducci” (comedian Don Novello), the fictional, chain-smoking priest from Saturday Night Live who supposedly worked as a gossip columnist and rock critic for a newspaper called The Vatican Enquirer.

Although they flirted with the first division early in the season, by the time AALL convened its meeting in Chicago, the Cubs were already in free fall and they ended the season dead last in the National League East Division. On the bright side, Cub outfielder Andre Dawson had a great year, slugging a league-leading 49 home runs and 137 RBIs and winning the National League MVP award, the first player in history to win the award while playing for a last place team. (Many think the answer to this trivia question is Ernie Banks, but when Mr. Cub won his back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959, the team finished in 5th place both years.)


Now heading toward the finish line, on July 22, 2015, at the conclusion of AALL’s 108th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Keith Ann Stiverson, director of the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Library, became the fifth AALL president from Chicago. Her predecessors were Frederick Schenk (1928–30); William S. Johnston, of the Chicago Law Institute (1944–45); the ubiquitous Bill Murphy (1967–68); and, more recently, Jean Wenger, of the Cook County Law Library in 2013–14.

In 2015, the Cubs won 97 games but still finished in third place in the very competitive National League Central Division behind the Cardinals and Pirates. They gave excited fans hope by defeating the Pirates in the Wild Card game and the Cardinals in the Division Series. But the Billy Goat curse of 1945, bolstered by the Black Cat of 1969, and the Bartman foul ball debacle of 2003, held firm. The team faltered against the New York Mets in the Championship Series, losing 4-0 and extending their absence from the World Series to 70 years, the longest dry spell in professional sports.


The magical year of 2016 finally arrived. In July, AALL returned to Chicago for its 109th Annual Meeting, the first held in the Windy City since 1987, and the fifth overall. The meeting’s highlights included President Keith Ann Stiverson presenting the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award to a fellow Chicago law librarian, Judith Wright, who spent her entire 40-plus years in the profession at the University of Chicago’s D’Angelo Law Library.13 In accepting AALL’s most prestigious award, Judith followed six prior recipients who spent the bulk of their careers in Chicago: Bill Murphy; Frank Lukes, Baker & McKenzie; Leon Liddell, University of Chicago and Northwestern University; Elizabeth Benyon, University of Chicago; Adolf Sprudz, Northwestern University and University of Chicago; and Francis (Bob) Doyle, Loyola University of Chicago.

Is there anything left to say about the 2016 Chicago Cubs? The team won 103 games, had the best record in baseball, featured the National League’s Most Valuable Player in Kris Bryant, and, most importantly to long-suffering Cubs fans throughout the nation, smashed all the curses! They defeated the Cleveland Indians in a seventh and deciding game that many have called the most exciting World Series contest ever. With the Chicago River turned Cubbie blue on November 4, five million ecstatic and frenzied rooters—twice the population of the city!—attended a World Series celebration parade. Because, for the first time in 108 years, the Cubs were the champions of baseball. So, no, there is nothing left to say.

1.This is a revised version of an essay presented on the Law Librarian Conversations Podcast, November 18, 2016.

2.See Ed Edmonds and Frank G. Houdek, Baseball Meets the Law: A Chronology of Decisions, Statutes and Other Legal Events (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, forthcoming 2017).

3.See Harry Caray and Bob Verdi, Holy Cow (New York: Berkley Books, 1989).

4.To learn more about one of the “best known works of verse ever written about baseball” (another being “Casey at the Bat”), see Tim Wiles, “Reason for the Rhyme: Adams’ ‘Baseball’s Sad Lexicon’ Turns 100,” Memories and Dreams 32, no. 3 (2010), 10–13; David Krell, “Poetry Man: Franklin Pierce Adams Left His Mark with ‘Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,’” Memories and Dreams 35, no. 3 (2013): 10–12.

5.The White Sox, who had won the American League pennant in spite of recording the league’s worst team batting average (.230), were dubbed “The Hitless Wonders” by famed baseball writer and humorist Charles Dryden. The team lived up to the name by hitting only .196 over the six games of the World Series, but the Cubs were not any better, hitting a mere .198 as a team. The latter contrasted with the team’s performance in the regular season when they led the National League with a .262 average.

6.“Editorial,” Law Library Journal 1 (1908), 31.

7.Frank G. Houdek, “Introducing the AALL Hall of Fame: AALL Announces Its Inaugural Class of Inductees to the AALL Hall of Fame,” AALL Spectrum (July 2010), 12, 14.

8.See Frank Di Canio, “The Chicago Association of Law Libraries, 1947–1955,” Law Library Journal 49 (1956), 204–08.

9.See Jack Bales, “The Show Girl and the Shortstop: The Strange Saga of Violet Popovich and Her Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges,” Baseball Research Journal 45 (Fall 2016): 66–77.

10.See John Theodore, Baseball’s Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2002), 1–5; Bob Goldsborough, “Baseball Stalker Inspired ‘The Natural,’” Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2013, 1:1.

11.Frank G. Houdek, “From the Editor: Bill Murphy Remembered,” Law Library Journal 88 (1996), 145.

12.Robert Berring, past president of AALL, remembering Babe Russo, Law-Lib electronic bulletin board, March 30, 1994.

13.Pauline M. Aranas, “Gallagher Award Celebrates Outstanding Achievement: S. Blair Kauffman and Judith M. Wright Recognized for Service to the Profession,” AALL Spectrum 20 (May/June 2016), 36–38.