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"How Iowa Met Baseball" with John Liepa

When Sep 29, 2011
from 04:30 PM to 07:45 PM
Where Decorah Public Library
Contact Name
Contact Phone 563-382-3717
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Baseball 092911


Historian, collector, and speaker John Liepa will be at the Decorah Public Library on Thursday September 29 to exhibit his collection of baseball cards and memorabilia (4:30-6:30 p.m.) and to present a program titled “Iowa Met Baseball – the Myths, the History, the Players” (6:45-7:45 p.m). The program will be of interest to the general public, students, sports enthusiasts, card and memorabilia collectors, and anyone interested in history, genealogy, or the Civil War.  


Liepa has collected baseball cards for over fifty years. Over that time, his 

collection has changed. He initially collected cards of individual players, favorite teams and complete sets; he now focuses on older nineteenth century cards and on Iowans who have played in the major leagues. His interest in Iowa history, the origins of baseball, and nineteenth century baseball cards led to this change.  


Liepa’s collection now includes pictures, photographs, autographs, books, and memorabilia of most of Iowa’s approximately 212 baseball players who have made it to the major leagues, including many cards and photos of six of the seven “Hall of Famers” from Iowa. The collection may be the most extensive in Iowa – it includes the oldest known baseball card photo of an Iowan from 1867, a CDV (early photograph, 1872) of Iowa’s first major league player, Calvin McVey from Montrose (near Keokuk), and early pictures of Iowa’s small town and city teams from the 1800s. There are many nineteenth century cards of Des Moines and Sioux City players.


As a tribute to Iowa’s first major league player, Cal McVey, Liepa wears an 1869 Cincinnati Redstocking uniform – the first major league team McVey  played for- during his presentation. Liepa talks about myths regarding the “invention” of baseball; then discusses the origins and evolution of the early game here in the United States; the games that baseball evolved from; how the Civil War played a role in accelerating the spread of the game; the very first mention of the game’s coming to Iowa in 1858, and how it slowly caught on prior to the Civil War; the role the war played in bringing the game back to Iowa; and how it exploded in the first couple years after the Civil War ended in 1865.


Liepa also discusses some of the first players from Iowa who played a critical role in the development of the game. Finally, he focuses on players from the part of the state where he is presenting the program. Iowans who have played in the major leagues are from towns representing approximate two thirds of Iowa’s 99 counties – both small and large.  


Liepa is Professor Emeritus of History at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and has taught history and political science courses for over 40 years. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Directors, Co-Director of the Iowa Studies Center at DMACC, and serves as program chair for the Des Moines Civil War Roundtable.


Call Decorah Public Library at 563-382-3717 for more information.