A while back I wrote about a couple of Cuban Stars’ box scores from 1921 that are unreadable on the microfilm of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here’s what they look like:
I found these mangled box scores several years ago, and had long assumed that the games were probably not recoverable. The Chicago Defender, which printed many, many NNL box scores that year, did not cover these games; and other Cincinnati papers besides the Enquirer proved impossible to obtain. Eventually, with the help of a magnifying glass and some prodigious squinting on my part, I deciphered the blurry one, though I didn’t think I could really be certain I’d gotten it all correct. But nothing could be done for the July 8 game that had been sliced in half.
The last resort would be to consult actual hard copies of the newspaper. But, as Nicholson Baker ferociously chronicles in Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, the old bound sets of newspapers have been mostly replaced by microfilm, and the hard copies often no longer exist. The set used in making the microfilm is literally destroyed, cut loose from the binding, and the loose pages usually thrown away; worse than this, libraries that buy the microfilm frequently discard their own perfectly good sets. Too often, all that’s left of entire runs of great newspapers is a single microfilm set, endlessly reproduced in library after library. If the microfilm is flawed or missing issues, there’s nothing you can do. Whatever’s gone is simply gone. So I assumed these games (or at least the July 8 one) had been lost forever.
This story, however, has a happy ending. The Cincinnati Public Library, I found out recently, has retained bound volumes of the Enquirer; and through the efforts of reference librarian Marianne Reynolds, who lugged the volumes from the stacks and used a special photocopier to preserve their bindings, these box scores have been rescued. Now a great game by Bernardo Baró (a home run and two “brilliant” ninth-inning, rally-killing catches) and a rare home run by Cubans’ shortstop Matías Ríos, among other events, have been restored to history. For the sake of anyone else who might be flummoxed by the Enquirer microfilm, here they are: