Growing up in a town rich in the oral tradition of baseball, author Marty Payne recounts his journey from childhood to becoming a researcher of the game’s local history in his interview with the Spy. . Born and raised on the Eastern Shore, he first encountered the local baseball culture while working at his father’s drugstore, a popular hangout for teenagers. His academic pursuits led him to Washington College, where he earned a master’s degree before embarking on a career as a state bureaucrat. It was during this time that his interest in baseball history deepened.
Inspired by Bill Mowbray’s The Eastern Shore Baseball League, he began to explore the origins of baseball in Talbot County. His research revealed a fascinating correlation between the sport’s growth and the expansion of railroads and steamboats in the region between 1865 and 1867. As transportation networks connected towns, baseball followed, attracting players from major cities and nurturing local talent.
Local newspapers became a goldmine for his research, revealing how baseball was more than just a game; it was a social cornerstone of the community. Throughout the early 1900s, the Eastern Shore produced notable players like Homer Smoot and Jake Flowers. By the 1920s, the minor leagues had become a breeding ground for future Hall of Famers, transforming local games into major social events that drew large crowds and fostered community connections. This historical journey through baseball on the Eastern Shore highlights the sport’s profound impact on local culture and community life.
Marty stopped by the Spy studio last month to talk more about his book.
This video is approximately minutes in length.