As Major League Baseball gets a new season under way, fans around the country are looking forward to rooting for their favorite teams in the months ahead. Lovers of baseball can also look back on some interesting National Archives records related to the all-American pastime, including patents held by former players, some of whom are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The agency has quite a few patent records related to baseball, according to archivist Bob Beebe from the National Archives in Kansas City.
In the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Record Group 241) there are several invention patents relating to the game, such as patents for the baseball bat, batting glove, catcher’s mask, and the actual baseball itself.
“While searching through our patent holdings, I looked for a theme other than just the more popular drawings related to baseball,” Beebe said. “While doing so, I discovered that several Hall-of-Famers have actually been issued patents.”
In fact, eight Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame inductees hold patents or have an application in with the patent office.
Six Hall of Fame members—five players/managers and one umpire—have patents in the National Archives collection, ranging from bases to sliding pads, sunglasses to cleats. Hall-of-Famers Fred Clarke, Tommy McCarthy, Bill Klem, Kid Nichols, Elmer Flick, and Max Carey were all issued patents related to the game of baseball. Clarke and Carey are the only two to have more than one patent—Clarke has four and Carey has two, according to Beebe.
The National Archives holds patent records from 1836 through 1978.
“All of the various internet sources for patents only contain the patent as issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Beebe said. “The patent case file series NAID 302050 at the National Archives at Kansas City has the original submitted application, drawings, correspondence, and other documents all related to the issuance of the patent.” Beebe added that a search on the Internet will uncover more information on the more recent and patents still pending and too new for the Archives files.
Earlier this week, the National Archives posted a web page citing many of the baseball-related records in the agency’s collection. America’s Favorite Pastime: Baseball and the Archives provides links to documents, images, videos, blogs, and articles for the nation’s baseball fans.
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See Also: Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives
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