I am very excited to share the recent publication of “Labor of Love” – a story of the unique baseball autograph collection assembled by my father and longtime Deerfield administrator, teacher and coach — G. Richard “The Rev” McKelvey.
While the title of this book – Labor of Love — captures the essence of our father’s lifetime hobby, it applies equally to the five years spent cataloging thousands of autographed baseball items – auctioned off over almost two years by Heritage Auctions – to determine those which would be most fascinating to baseball fans and collectors of all ages.
For over six decades, The Rev lived a life “silly on baseball” — playing for Delaware and coaching some of the great Deerfield teams – all while building one of the largest and unique private baseball autograph collections in the world. His “labor of love” was a meticulous approach to collecting themed autographed baseballs, team sheets and even first-day issue US Postal stamps he considered relevant to the culture of baseball. The collection celebrated everything from the game’s greatest milestones and memorable events … to its most noted characters, occurrences and relationships. It’s a genre of autograph collecting, known as “cluster collecting,” that he is widely credited with creating.
Deerfield Academy plays a significant backdrop for the stories of the collection, where it truly flourished “below Pocumtuck”. Letters and correspondence between former Headmaster Frank L. Boyden and Baseball Hall of Famers “Smokey” Joe Wood and Joe Cronin captured my father’s curiosity. The gracious folks at the Deerfield Library offered my Dad endless access to microfiche and research materials for the many books that he wrote later in life. Deerfield players like Steve Kiner and Mike Trombley played significant roles in the storytelling as well – they were among the many individuals that impacted his zest for research, collecting and sharing his love of baseball.
For our father, this book was our “Labor of Love”. Together with my brother Kevin M. McKelvey DA ’83, our goal was to capture the essence of his passion for the game – and his unique approach memorializing events, moments and characters of the National Pastime.