Larry Kalas’ donation preserves decades of baseball moments
His eyes light up, his countenance transforms and the years seem to fall away when he starts to talk about his maternal grandfather, his dad and his older brother and the memories of their times spent amongst the fans on the Southside of Chicago, rooting for the White Sox at Comiskey.
“My dad and grandfather were both working men who didn’t have a lot of time off to go to games, but they made a point to take us when they could,” Larry Kalas said while sitting in his office in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. “It really was a bonding thing for us and that is what developed into this desire to put this kind of collection together. Over the years, those experiences, and the bonds that were created, prompted me to try to find a way to honor those memories. In particular, I thought about 1959 and the year that the White Sox won the American League pennant.”
Kalas decided to write a book about that season and that team. While doing some research, he came across a film that a family had taken of their trip to Chavez Ravine to watch one of the games of that ’59 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the White Sox.
Be A Part of Something Greater
“I have always loved history and I try to preserve it in various ways,” Kalas said. “I have an extensive collection of books and materials regarding the various things that I have been involved with in my life. That sort of preservation is important to me. Finding that one film from 1959 sparked an interest in attempting to identify and collect other 16mm, 8mm and Super 8mm films related to people like (us), going to the ballpark with their friends or family and simply taking video of what was happening, the stadium, the crowd and the game action.”
Kalas began collecting these pieces of film of varying lengths in the late 1990s and then eventually organized them by splicing the shorter films together according to film format onto larger reels, in sequential order. There are over 90 separate reels of film that Kalas donated, and they will forever be preserved in Cooperstown. Eventually, when the funding is secured, these films will be professionally scanned and digitized in order to share this content with generations to come.
“I’m grateful that it will be preserved and seen by current and future fans,” Kalas said. “That’s why I collected it and that’s why I put it together and the rightful place is in the archives at the Hall of Fame and Museum.”
Roger Lansing is the manager of recorded media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum