Two professors unveil new books

Two Castleton University professors have recently published new books. History professor, Adam Chill wrote “Bare Knuckle Britons and Fighting Irish” and Geography professor Scott Roper penned “When Baseball Met Big Bill Haywood,” with his wife Stephanie Abbot Roper.

Chill’s book is about the sport of boxing in the 18th and 19th centuries, how culture was used to gain interest in the sport and its cultural importance in Britain.

Roper’s book details how the largest cotton textile company in New Hampshire in 1912, Amoskeag, tried to use baseball and other methods to Americanize its immigrant work force to prevent them from going on strike.

On Monday evening, they celebrated with colleagues and students by talking briefly about their books and answering questions about them.

At the event, Chill discussed how he had started his research for this book during his dissertation and how his interest continued afterward.

Roper talked about how his interest stemmed from growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was particularly interested in the baseball field called Gill Stadium and through his research later in life, he found there was a lot more than he had originally thought about its history.

Colleagues and students were proud of both professors, praising their hard work.

Student Emma Truhan-Swanson said she was excited to read both books.

“I’m so proud. I have not read them yet but they are on my Amazon Wishlist,” Truhan-Swanson said.

Castleton President Karen M. Scolforo also attended the event to show her support and expressed how impressive their work is.

“I’m so proud of our esteemed faculty members who have recently published these really compelling books. It’s amazing to me to think of them juggling a heavy teaching load, the leadership and advisement of their students while creating these publications that are heavily researched,” Scolforo said.

Fellow history professor Andre Fleche said he has started reading both books and is enjoying the experience.

“They are both great writers and have really engaging stories to tell,” Fleche said.

In an interview after the event, the professors discussed more in-depth how long they had been working on these projects and their favorite parts of the process.

For Roper, his interest in the topic started in 1997 when he gave a picture of the Red Sox at Gill Stadium in 1912 (then called Textile Filed) as a gift, he felt there was some significance to the game so he began researching it more. What he found was Amoskeag seemed to be trying to control this field and he wanted to know why.

In the early 2000s, he found there were numerous strikes going on in 1912 in New England among immigrant workers. His wife began getting interested in this subject at this point too and they started to realize this was going to turn into a book. 

“I thought this would be a short quick project that maybe could result in an article, but the more I looked at the context, the time, the more fun I had finding things,” Roper said.

He said he most enjoyed finding out about the social history not related to baseball, which had been his initial interest.  

Chill’s interest in his topic began 14 years ago when he came across an article on the topic. He then used the topic for his dissertation before beginning the book in 2016.

He said it was a lot easier for him to research this topic when he began writing his book because all the newspapers he used as sources were online, unlike when he had done his dissertation and had to travel to England to look at them. 

His favorite part of writing this book was re-telling the unique stories he found.

“I think my favorite part about writing this was just thinking about how to tell the stories and trying to tell them in an interesting way,” Chill said.

His said he hopes these stories are interesting to the readers and they understand how unavoidable culture and politics are in sport.

He said he felt so humbled having his book published and seeing people show interest in it.

“There’s nothing quite like seeing your name on a book and opening up that book and seeing words you wrote,” Chill said. 

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