Peter Kleine originally came to George Mason University to study history, hoping someday to become a teacher. Then the former high school basketball and golf standout realized that at George Mason, he could combine his love of sportwith history. Now, through a minor in sport and American culture, Kleine is creating an oral history of how race and society played a role in Washington, D.C., sports.
Kleine took courses on U.S. sport history and basketball history with Professor Chris Elzey in Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He was so fascinated with the subjects that he asked Elzey how he could learn more. Elzey suggested Kleine apply to Mason’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR)undergraduate program.
“It allows him to do the hands-on work of an oral historian,” Elzey says. “Assessing his project so far, I’m very pleased.”
Kleine and Elzey created a list of potential interview candidates. Not everyone called back. But their persistence paid off when Kleine met two former athletes who were willing to share their stories of perseverance.
Kleine, of Pennsylvania, flew to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to meet Maury Willis—three-time World Series champion; seven-time Major League Baseball All-Star Game player; All-Star Game Most Valuable Player; National League Most Valuable Player; two-time Gold Glove Award winner; and the first modern-era player with two, 90-plus stolen base seasons. Wills also is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Golden Era ballot being considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“He was the real deal,” recalls Kleine, “I’d never met a more genuine, happy individual.”
January 30, 2015