|Dorothy Jane Mills|
(aka Dorothy Seymour Mills)
February 25, 2011
By Ann O'Neill, CNN
Harold Seymour wrote baseball's first Bible, debunking some of the game's biggest myths.
He informed fans that Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York, (Footnote: There's evidence of games involving sticks, balls and bases being played in England in the 1700s.) and that Jackie Robinson wasn't the first black Major League player. (That distinction more likely went to Moses Fleetwood Walker in the 1880s.)
Three books produced over a span of 30 years made Seymour the dean of baseball historians, and his journey from batboy to Ph.D. was celebrated as a success story. The study of America's national pastime at last seemed "grownup and worthwhile," observes John Thorn, a colleague who followed in his footsteps.
But after Seymour died in 1992, his wife, Dorothy, set about debunking one more myth: that he had researched and written all three books on his own.
She was the student turned secretary who married her professor. Now, more than 50 years after the first book was published, baseball's scholars acknowledge that hers was the invisible hand that shaped the three volumes.
For years, she didn't question her subservient role. As he slipped into Alzheimer's, she wrote much of the third book herself but, as always, he refused to give her credit. She knows now that she was exploited and doesn't argue with people who say she was a victim of intellectual spousal abuse.
Seymour didn't just steal Dorothy's work, says Steve Gietschier, former chief of research at The Sporting News. "He stole her personhood."
She is Dorothy Seymour Mills now, remarried but "not retired" at 83. Her hair is perfectly coiffed in a stiff helmet, the style favored by women of a certain age. Her bright blue eyes crackle with intelligence. She wears a tailored pantsuit as she opens the door to her condo in Naples, Florida. Spring training is just getting under way, but she's no fangirl. In fact, she says, her interest in baseball is purely academic.
Just inside is the collection of brightly painted canes she uses to get around. She doesn't hobble, though, and on several occasions uses the tip of her cane to push open the automatic doors of the lushly landscaped assisted-living facility she calls home.
She might be a woman wronged, but she definitely is not a member of the Oprah Generation. She speaks without a hint of boastfulness or bitterness, and some details must be coaxed from her. Even then, she doesn't trash her late husband.
[Editor - visit her website at http://www.dorothyjanemills.com/]