It is October in New England and aside from relishing in the unseasonably warm temperatures and the incredibly vibrant fall foliage, it’s also the closing act of the major league baseball season. While our beloved Red Sox have unceremoniously exited the playoffs and, as a result, relegated one of baseball’s most beloved figures, “Big Papi” David Ortiz, to retirement, we are on the cusp of a historic World Series match-up between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.
Provided the Cubs get past the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, a Chicago vs. Cleveland match-up would pit two long suffering franchises against one another and would finally result in one of the two teams being crowned as World Series Champs – – Chicago after a 108-year title drought and Cleveland after a 68-year dearth.
At this point, you might be asking yourself why I am using the MTI blog to talk about our national pastime. Quite simply, it’s because I am so thrilled by the recent news that HistoryIT, an MTI-funded company in Portland, has secured an exciting contract with the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York to digitize a number of baseball’s as yet unseen materials like Babe Ruth’s scrapbooks, items relating to Jackie Robinson – – the man who broke baseball’s color barrier and had his jersey (number 42) retired across all of baseball – – and rare materials relating to the Hall of Fame’s first 5 inductees (Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson). As a fan of the game and a history enthusiast, I am overjoyed to learn more intriguing information about the exploits of the legendary Jackie Robinson and the first 5 Hall of Fame inductees who went by the following imaginative nicknames: the Georgia Peach, Bambino, Flying Dutchman, Big Six and The Big Train.
HistoryIT’s amazing $15 million multi-year collaboration with the Hall of Fame was first reported in the New York Times and more recently in the Portland Press Herald. Now, on the Hall of Fame’s site – collection.baseballhall.org – we can access the amazing images that HistoryIT has digitally cataloged.
HistoryIT’s founder and CEO, Kristen Gwinn-Becker, came to MTI in 2012 and was awarded a $25,000 Seed Grant to develop a business plan around her idea of creating a better archiving system using proprietary software that could digitize, categorize and quickly access millions of archival documents. Six months later, she came back to MTI and was awarded a $250,000 Development Loan to commercialize the product.
The company, headquartered on Commercial Street in Portland, now has 35 employees and, as some recent MTI marketing materials proclaimed, the company is not only focused on preserving history, it is also making history and creating good jobs on its way to becoming a true Maine success story. MTI is thrilled to have played a small role in the company’s success and in its extraordinary work with the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kudos to HistoryIT on its thrilling new collaboration and triumph. And speaking of triumph, my best wishes go out to the participants in this year’s World Series as they endeavor to leave their own mark on baseball history.