In the old days, newspapers often published several editions a day. I’m not talking about morning and evening papers (which were usually separate titles in any case), but rather different versions of the same paper released throughout the day on a regular schedule, with the contents updated and rearranged, along with extras to cover extraordinary breaking news.
As Nicholson Baker has pointed out in his fine book Double Fold, one effect of the microfilming movement was to more or less eliminate editional variety from our libraries. There’s usually only one microfilmed version of any given newspaper generally available, and when libraries throw out their bound copies of papers in favor of microfilmed versions purchased from UMI or wherever, that newspaper is increasingly represented only by whatever edition was microfilmed. The other versions of the paper are lost.
Negro League history is especially vulnerable to this winnowing process. While some daily newspapers, especially in smaller cities, treated Negro League games as genuine news events, big city papers tended to regard blackball box scores as space fillers, useful in earlier editions, but liable to be cut in later ones as fresher items crowded them out. Since we’re usually left with a single microfilm version of any given newspaper, there’s really no recourse. The box scores that might have been cut are gone, probably forever.
However, I’ve recently discovered that this is not always the case. A May 6, 1922, Negro National League game between the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones appears in one microfilmed edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but not in another. The version that does NOT have the box score was filmed by Bell & Howell (now ProQuest). I don’t know who filmed the other version, the one WITH the box score (it was provided to me by another researcher). A couple of guesses would be the Ohio Historical Society or the Library of Congress. Also, the record for the Plain Dealer in Harvard’s catalog indicates that their version is part of the “Harvard College Library newspaper preservation microfilm program.”
So, at least when it comes to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it might pay to be aware that if a box score is missing, it might still exist in another microfilm edition. Though it also appears that it might be a little difficult to track down these variants.