"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." — T. E. Lawrence (aka "Lawrence of Arabia"), The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Accepting the Henry Chadwick Award at SABR 47 (New York City, June 29, 2017)
PETER C. BJARKMAN (born in Hartford, Connecticut on May 19, 1941) is author of 40-plus books on sports history, including academic histories, coffee table pictorials, and biographies for young adult readers. He is perhaps best known in recent years as the leading authority on post-revolution Cuban League baseball and is also the first American to write regular columns and analysis on two "official" Cuban League baseball websites. His 2007 book, History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006 is universally recognized as the definitive work treating the history of Cuba's national pastime.
Bjarkman's earlier pictorial history of Cuban baseball entitled Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball (1999, Total Sports, with photographer Mark Rucker) is widely recognized as a landmark achievement in the field. His more recent volume, Diamonds around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball (2005, Greenwood), was winner of The Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award and a finalist for Spitball magazine's CASEY AWARD as "Baseball Book of the Year." Bjarkman's 1994 study, Baseball with a Latin Beat: A History of the Latin American Game (McFarland), earned the Macmillan-SABR Baseball Research Award. He is a frequent radio/television guest and invited speaker on international baseball, plus a regular columnist for the Spanish-language monthly periodical Béisbol Mundial (New York).
Bjarkman—who splits his year between Lafayette, Indiana; Zagreb, Croatia; and Havana, Cuba—has traveled extensively throughout Cuba (30-plus visits) over the past decade and was the first American interviewed extensively about Cuban baseball on Cuban national television (2001-2005) during the 45-year history of the Cuban Socialist Revolution; he today ranks as the leading authority on the history of post-1962 Cuban League and Cuban national team baseball. Bjarkman has attended numerous major Olympic-style international baseball tournaments over the past ten years and recently covered Baseball World Cup XXXVI in The Netherlands (September 2005) for the Prensa Latina (Havana, Cuba) English-language website and the MLB World Baseball Classic (March 2006) for the Spanish-language magazine Béisbol Mundial. His latest books, entitled A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006 (2007), is published by McFarland & Company. Bjarkman writes and lectures in both English and Spanish.
A native New Englander, Bjarkman earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics (University of Florida) in 1976, M.A. in English (Trinity College, Hartford) in 1972, M.Ed. in Educational Administration (University of Hartford, Summa Cum Laude) in 1970, and B.S.Ed. in Education (University of Hartford, Magna Cum Laude) in 1963. He has been married since 1985 to Purdue University linguistics professor Ronnie B. Wilbur, a leading researcher and authority on deaf sign languages, and has two adult children. His avocations include model railroading (HO and N scale) and building the most extensive existing collection of Cuban League game-worn baseball uniforms.
Bjarkman is a member of The Author's Guild (2006) and the SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research (since 1987).
Press Stories Promoting Peter C. Bjarkman
1. “’No Reservations’ on Cuba baseball for author” (Q&A feature with Peter Bjarkman) (by Tim Brouk) in: The Lafayette (Indiana) Journal & Courier (June 13, 2011), A8. (Bjarkman interview regarding Travel Channel appearance with Anthony Bourdain)
2. “Inside Baseball: This Yanqui is Welcome in Cuba’s Locker Room” (by Christopher Rhoads) in: Wall Street Journal (November 9, 2010), 1/A16. (Front page story with iconic WSJ “Hedcut” )
3. “¡Viva el Béisbol! From Professor of Linguistics to Cuban Baseball Expert” (Bjarkman Profile in “9 to 5, Act II: Alumni Tell Us How Their Career Paths Have Diverged”) in: Observer: The Magazine of the University of Hartford, Spring 2010, 22.
4. “Un batazo que estremeció también a México” (by Raúl Arce) in: Juventud Rebelde (March 12, 2009), 7. (Cuban press story discussing Bjarkman’s predictions for WBC II)
5. “De puurheid van het spel – Amerikaan volgt Cubaans tean op de voet” (Peter Bjarkman Cuba-watcher in Haarlem) (by Bart Slegers) in: Haarlemsdagblad (July 12, 2008) (Dutch press feature story about an American reporting on Cuban baseball)
6. “Mr. Peter Bjarkman: historia del béisbol cubano” (Spanish article) (by Dr. José de Jesús Jiménez) in: La Información (Deportes 2B), November 10, 2007.
7. “Un libro exquisito: 143 años de pelota cubana” (by Raúl Arce) in: Juventud Rebelde (June 13, 2007), 7. (Cuban press interview promoting Bjarkman’s writings)
8. “The lore of baseball—Local author restores the history of Cuban ‘béisbol’ in ‘Smoke’” (by John Norberg) in: The Lafayette (Indiana) Journal & Courier (February 5, 2000), B5-B6.
9. “Béisbol: A History—Lafayette-based author visited Cuba three times to write ‘Smoke,’ a volume on baseball in its most pristine form” (by Dan Carpenter) in: The Indianapolis Star (October 19, 1999), E1-E2.
10. “Sports’ Prolific Man of Letters” (by Conrad Brunner) in: The Indianapolis Star/News (August 11, 1998), A1-A2.
11. “Crackin’ ‘em … Outta Here! No one gets down the line quicker than Peter ‘Dr. Baseball’ Bjarkman” (by Kevin Cullen) in: The Lafayette (Indiana) Journal & Courier (May 3, 1995), B1-2.
12. “He owns a bit of baseball by writing about it (Profile of Peter C. Bjarkman)” (by Marc D. Allen) in: The Indianapolis Star (May 14, 1995), J3.
13. “Peter Bjarkman—aka Dr. Baseball” (by Robert Cannon) in: Sports Collectors Digest. 20:16 (April 16, 1993), 174-177.
14. “It’s not just a ball game, you bum, it’s art, religion (Profile of Peter C. Bjarkman)” (by John Shaughnessy) in: The Indianapolis Star (June 20, 1986), 17.
15. “Why time begins on opening day – Professor says baseball reflects American culture” (by Mark Curnutte) in: The Lafayette (Indiana) Journal & Courier (April 7, 1986), C1.
Major Writing Awards for Peter C. Bjarkman
2017 Winner – The SABR Henry Chadwick Award, Honoring Baseball's Great Researchers – Historians, Statisticians, Annalists and Archivists
2016 Winner – SABR Baseball Research Award (for Cuba's Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016)
2008 Winner – SABR Latino Committee Eduardo Valero Memorial Award (for “Best Article of 2008” in La Prensa, newsletter of the SABR Latino Baseball Research Committee)
2007 Recipient – Robert Peterson Recognition Award by SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, for advancing public awareness of Negro league baseball (for A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006, McFarland & Company Publishers, 2007)
2005 Finalist – Spitball CASEY Award (for Diamonds around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball, Greenwood Press, 2005)
2004 Winner – The Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award for “Best Baseball Research” (for Diamonds around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball, Greenwood Press, 2005)
(2002) Reconocimiento al Mérito “Palmar de Junco” Monumento Nacional. Special citation and merit award (“Palmar de Junco” National Monument, Matanzas) presented jointly to Peter Bjarkman and Mark Rucker in honor of contributions as historians of Cuban baseball, offered by the Peña Deportiva (Sports Club) of Matanzas, Cuba, at the site of the mythical first baseball game on Cuban soil. Presented on February 28, 2002, in appreciation of Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball (1999)
2000 Finalist – SABR Seymour Medal (Nominated with co-author Mark Rucker for Smoke—The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball, Total Sports Illustrated, 1999)
1999 Finalist – Spitball CASEY Award (with Mark Rucker for Smoke—The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball, Total Sports Illustrated, 1999)
1994 Winner – Macmillan-SABR Baseball Research Award (for Baseball with a Latin Beat: A History of the Latin American Game, McFarland & Company, 1994)