After making some guest posts on early baseball history, The Powers That Be have invited me to become a regular contributor. After I accepted, they sprung on me that they wanted an introductory post, which seems a dirty trick, but wadda ya gonna do?
The basics: I am a middle class white guy, married and with two kids. Yay, diversity! Several of the contributors here are lawyers. You will be pleased to learn that I am not a lawyer. I am a paralegal.
What, you ask, does a paralegal do? Excellent question! I have no idea. Or rather, I know what I do, but that doesn’t mean I know what some other paralegal does. “Paralegal” is one of those delightfully vague job titles. It can mean anything from a glorified legal secretary (but don’t knock the value of a good legal secretary) to someone who comes just short of practicing law. Add to this that lawyers are nearly as specialized as doctors, and I have only the vaguest notion what the paralegals in the domestic law firm down the hall do with their days. I work in a small firm, doing mostly personal injury plaintiff work. The paralegal position is very much of the “whatever you make it” sort. I push the upper end of the paralegal range. I don’t talk to judges, except by accident (two times in ten years), and I only sign legal pleadings under extraordinary circumstances (and even then not my own name), but I draft many of the pleadings my boss signs. It is a job where once you show you can do this sort of stuff, lawyers love you for it, since you are taking work off their desks.
But enough about my day job. I don’t expect to write much about that here, though you never know. More to the point, I am a non-academic of academic leanings. I considered academia while in college, in the 1980s. It would have been in the humanities, and even then I saw the writing on the wall. I wasn’t willing to roll the dice on that bet. Since then I have found various quasi-academic pursuits, in addition to my day job.
For the past decade or so this has largely been early baseball history. Put my name in Google Scholar and you can see some of what has come from this. (You should probably add “baseball” to your search string. “Hershberger” is a more common name than you think.) (Also, disregard all the Willard Hershberger stuff: no relation.) Early baseball is a terrific area for someone like me. It lies on the edge of academic interests. There have been a few professional academics who took a serious interest in it, and more who dabbled. The result is that some of the best books on the topic are by academics, so are some of the worst. There are lots of books by amateurs, and most of them are bad, but it takes a professional academic to really stink up the room. The result is that there is a lot of room for an amateur to do original research, and forums in which to publish it.
I expect to do more early baseball posts, until asked to stop, but I have other interests to write about. I have an amateur interest in linguistics.. If 3,000 words on some point of English syntax is your idea of a good time, I’m your man! I am interested in religion and the history of religion. I imagine I will write about that down the road. I don’t know where else inspiration may strike. I don’t expect to go much into politics. I have my opinions there, but not really anything to say that any number of others aren’t. But we will see. In any case, you have been warned.