It was standing room only at Villalobos Hall for a special event hosted this month by the Institute for Baseball Studies, featuring former Los Angeles Dodgers players and staff from the 1988 World Series participating in a panel discussion and Q&A. This was the first event the institute has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the most attended, said Whittier College Religious Studies Professor Emeritus Joe Price, co-director for the institute.
“There were some people outside the conference hall on the patio where we had been able to set up speakers so that they were able to hear as well,” Price said. “So it was an incredibly successful event.”
On the panel were Mike Scioscia, former catcher, and coach; Mickey Hatcher, former outfielder, third baseman, and first baseman; Fred Claire, former general manager; and Richard Kee, the team’s former official photographer. In the audience were students, trustees, community members, baseball fans, alumni, and others, such as Kathy Robinson Young, the niece of Jackie Robinson.
It was a sort of homecoming for Claire, who began his professional career covering sports at Whittier Daily News in 1957. The institute has one of the most extensive collections of Dodgers (and general baseball) memorabilia outside of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., including Claire’s collection of baseballs signed by every baseball player who participated in the 1984 Olympics — the first time the sport was featured.
More recently, he donated his trove of daily journals from his time with the Dodgers — a collection of 24 boxes of books spanning his decades-long career, an invaluable resource for scholars to mine.
“I have always been interested in trying to help educate, encourage, and inspire in any way that I can,” Claire said. “And so the institute and Whittier College really became a natural location where those books and that material can be put to good use.”
The next Institute for Baseball Studies event will be a screening of the documentary “The League” on Feb. 8 with producer Byron Motley discussing the history of Negro League baseball during the first half of the 20th century.
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