George Gmelch

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George Gmelch

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

George Gmelch played five seasons in the minor leagues, three in the Detroit Tigers organization and the rest in the independent leagues, from 1965 to 1970. He went on to become a professor of sociology and to write a number of books and articles on baseball topics.

An outfielder and first baseman, he grew up in a sheltered all-white suburb of San Francisco, CA and would later describe his experiences after joining the Tigers' organization as how he discovered the outside world. He was signed by scout Bernie DeViveiros for a modest bonus of $2,500 just before the first amateur draft. He started off in 1965 with the Jamestown Tigers of the New York-Penn League, where he hit .207 in 40 games, and also played 9 games for the Duluth-Superior Dukes of the Northern League that season, hitting .200. He did hit 5 homers, all at Jamestown, and drove in 18 runs. In 1966, he split his time between the Daytona Beach Islanders of the Florida State League, the Rocky Mount Leafs of the Carolina League and the Statesville Tigers of the Western Carolinas League. In 110 games, he hit .264/.337/.349, with 2 homers and 40 RBIs. In 1967, he was back with Rocky Mount for 62 games, where he hit .218 with 4 homers and 29 RBIs. After being released in mid-year, he joined the Drummondville Royals of the "outlaw" Provincial League where he had some good success, finishing second in the league with 14 homers. He returned to Drummondville in 1968, where his production went down, then after skipping 1969 to do field research towards his graduate degree in Mexico, came back for one last season in 1970, but decided to quit after a few weeks.

After retiring as a player he completed his schooling by earning his PhD. He became a professor of social anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, NY and at the University of San Francisco, although spending some time at McGill University. His first published article, about the superstitions of baseball players and how they confirm the theses of Bronislaw Malinowski about primitive religion, has become a classic text of sociology. A first version was published in 1971 and the definitive one in 1978. Baseball remained an interest throughout his academic life, and he published a number of well-received works on the subject, including a chronicle of his years as a professional player, Playing with Tigers, which came out in 2016. His other books touch on subjects such as the Traveller community in Ireland, Caribbean migrant workers, and fishing communities in Newfoundland.

Further Reading[edit]

  • George Gmelch: "Baseball Magic", Human Nature, Vol. 1, Nr. 8, 1978, pp. 32-40. [1]
  • George Gmelch: "Superstition and Ritual in American Baseball", Elysian Fields Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1992, pp. 25-36. [2]
  • George Gmelch: "Groupies and American Baseball", Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 22, Nr. 1, 1998, pp. 32-45.
  • George Gmelch and J.J. Weiner: In the Ballpark: The Working Lives of Baseball People, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2006. (Originally published in 1998). ISBN 978-0-8032-7127-2
  • George Gmelch: "Rules and Respect: The Culture of Professional Baseball", Anthropology of Work Review, Vol. 20, Nr. 2, 2000, pp.25-34.
  • George Gmelch: "Baseball Wives: Work and Gender in Professional Baseball", Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 30, Nr. 3, 2001, pp. 335-356.
  • George Gmelch: "In Thrall of the Culture of Baseball", The Chronicle for Higher Education, August 10, 2001, pp. B12-13.
  • George Gmelch: "Taking a Longer View of Living in the Minors", The New York Times, August 19, 2001.
  • George Gmelch: Inside Pitch: Life in Professional Baseball, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2006. (Originally published in 2001). ISBN 978-0-8032-7128-9
  • George Gmelch, ed.: Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime, University of Nebraska Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8032-7125-8
  • George Gmelch: Playing with Tigers: A Minor League Chronicle of the Sixties, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2016. ISBN 978-0-8032-7681-9

Related Sites[edit]