A foreman of the San Jose Mercury Herald Press Room for forty-one years (1893 – 1934), John (Jack) Martin Graham was one of the valley’s best known baseball writers. Writing columns in the Mercury Herald, he promoted amateur baseball, even arranging games and settling disputes. In the early 1920s, he encouraged readers to visit Japantown to watch the Japanese community’s team at a time when anti-Asian sentiment was strong.
Jack also enjoyed composing, and he published two songs, My Mariposa Lily (1930) and We’ll Fight for Yankee Doodle (1917). The sheet music for both songs are housed in the California Room’s sheet music collection.
Jack retired as press foreman in 1934 at the age of sixty-two to devote himself full time to promoting and writing about baseball. On the evening of May 28, 1934, he suffered a fatal heart attack at the typewriter. He stumbled out of his office to the sidewalk on Lightston Alley where he was found a short time later.
There were a number of memorials given, and the following year on May 17, 1935, the City of San Jose opened a baseball stadium dedicated to his memory. At the dedication ceremony, Jack’s son Malcolm placed a memorial plaque on its pedestal which read: GRAHAM FIELD, Dedicated to the Memory of JACK GRAHAM, 1872 – 1934, Father of Sandlot Baseball of Santa Clara Valley. Located on Willow Street near First Street, the grandstands burnt down in 1947. The land was then subdivided with the addition of a new street named Graham Avenue. Jack is buried at Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose.
Further Reading from the San Jose Public Library, California Room:
The National Archives provides free eBooks on various topics, and select titles are free! Right now, to kick off baseball season, explore the history of baseball at the Archives in this eBook which collects various documents, photos, audio and video materials.
Sixth Cousin, also known as Bandit, of the House of Wong, lived halfway around the world from New York City. Her father has been travelling for a very long time, while Bandit and her mother remained in China with her father’s family. One day a letter arrives. While this letter makes her mother very happy, it makes her grandmother cry and her grandfather angry. No one tells Bandit anything. What is going on?
Finally, Bandit is told that she and her mother are going to America to join her father. Bandit selects her American name, Shirley Temple Wong, and so begins their journey. It is a difficult transition from China to America; at times Shirley feels happy and other times sad. But after she makes her first new school friend, and discovers baseball, her transition into everyday American life truly begins.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson is not a new book, but with many children in our local community who recently arrived from other countries, there is a perfect audience for this thoughtful and relevant book. New arrivals will identify with Shirley’s struggles, and successes, as she learns to adapt to her new life. Anyone who has felt different or lonely can identify and sympathize with Shirley when she finds herself the only Chinese speaking student in her school. The language used and emotions discussed by Bette Bao Lord are suitable for ages 8 and up.
When Jimmie is elected captain of his baseball team, he decides that he will also become the team’s pitcher. The team is not so sure this is a good decision. They already have Paul, a very skilled and experienced pitcher. Why should Paul be displaced when he has proven to be the best team player for the pitching mound? But Jimmie is the captain, and the team must follow his lead. Jimmie has a lot to learn about being a team captain and he soon finds himself tangled up in a choice he must make between his ego and the welfare of the team. Author Matt Christopher writes one of the most popular sports series for young readers. If you love baseball and fast paced, action stories you will enjoy Power Pitcher as well as all the Matt Christopher sports fiction.
The baseball season is upon us, what with the MLB season starting on Thursday, March 31st. It's sometimes difficult to explain the grip that baseball has on the casual fan, of which I am one, because in many ways it's a seriously neurotic way of observing the passing days of Spring, Summer, and if your team is lucky (or good), Fall. The season is too long, the games too many, but somehow every year I look forward to congregating in Oakland (sorry Giants fans) with my brothers, my nephews, my own son and the occasional female member of our troupe just to reconnect with the first stadium and, indeed, team that I ever felt compelled to support as mine.
Check out the book Baseball: An Illustrated History to get an overview and, if nothing else, a reason to remind yourself of the enormity and importance that baseball history provides in our country's identity. Another title worth giving major props is From Asahi to Zebras: Japanese American Baseball in San Jose, California by the library's own Ralph Pearce.
So whether your team is from Maracaibo, Chicago(Cubs or Sox), Hokkaido or Oakland(!), it's time to root root root for the home team and praise the glory of neurotic affiliation and loyalty to your baseball colors!