The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.
Elysian Fields Soil
James’ family however did not share his enthusiasm which temporarily darkened his spirit and dampened his excitement. He placed the cloth encased soil in a box and stored it in the cold cellar for safekeeping. He attached a note to it describing its importance to him, where and when it was obtained, and instructions to have it passed down to each male child descendant (the note was lost when my father, Robert S. Orr, attended Girard College in Philadelphia from 1913 to 1917). The Elysian Fields "sod" as it was called by the family, was passed to James’ son James Jr., then to his son Roy S., then to his son Robert S., and then to me upon my father’s death in December of 1975. The original cloth container had apparently deteriorated and was unfortunately discarded. When I received it, it was freshly wrapped in newspaper (Reading Eagle, 4 July 1975) which marks the 122nd anniversary of James’ visit to New York for his birthday.
According to my father, the soil was passed through the Orr generations more out of respect for James’ wishes than a belief in its historical importance. Baseball, as I remember, did not occupy a place of significance or prominence in the family. It was only during a visit to Reading by Albert Kilchesty (I had known him when he was a student at Albright College) in April of 1997 that I became aware of the significance of our family heirloom. He suggested that I contact you, and, well, the rest is history.
Gerald H. Orr
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