An Accidental Time Capsule
By Ed Brennen
When Prof. Emeritus Stephen Orroth ’66 retired from the Plastics Engineering Department seven years ago, Prof. Stephen Johnston ’07 gladly inherited a vintage wooden bookcase from his second-floor office at Ball Hall.
“I liked the bookcase because it was an older style — classier than the new Ikea junk — and I didn’t want to see it get thrown away,” says Johnston.
While in his office one day this spring, Johnston noticed that one of the two drawers at the bottom of the bookcase wasn’t closing completely. He removed the drawer and discovered some old papers lodged in the back of the opening. Among them was a remarkable find: an unused season ticket from the 1925 Lowell Textile School baseball season.
“I was struck by how a piece of history that had been lost for nearly a century suddenly appears in my office, almost like a time capsule,” Johnston says of the white, business card-sized ticket that, with the exception of a faint stain in one corner, was in near-mint condition. “I’ve heard all the stories about Lowell Tech, and we have fantastic alumni from the institution, and here I am holding a piece of original Lowell Textile School memorabilia.”
Atop the front of the ticket are the numbers 1-9, which could be punched for each of the team’s nine home games that season. On the back of the ticket is the team’s full 11-game schedule, which it finished 4-6 (the season finale against Saint Michael’s was canceled). Two of the schools that Lowell Tech played that season — Boston University and the University of New Hampshire — no longer have baseball programs.
The 1925 season was the first (and only) for Coach George “Lefty” Tyler, a former major league pitcher who helped lead the Boston Braves past the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series. A native of Derry, New Hampshire, Tyler also pitched for the Chicago Cubs in the 1918 World Series, which they lost to Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox. Tyler, who died in Lowell in 1953 at the age of 63, won 127 games in his 12-year big league career.
The 1925 season ticket also lists the names of team captain Andrew Scanlon ’25 (described in The Pickout yearbook as “a true sportsman and an athlete of more than ordinary ability”), Manager Eddie Weinstein and Director of Athletics L.H. Cushing, namesake of the Cushing Field Complex.
Johnston, who gave the ticket to the Advancement Office so it could be shared with alumni, has been trying to retrace the history of the bookcase. The plastics program started in 1954 in the basement of Pasteur Hall (now Dandeneau Hall) and moved to Ball Hall in 1964. Orroth joined the Plastics Department a few years later and Johnston figures “he must have inherited a bookcase that was at least 40 years old when he moved into the office.”
Almost a century later, the UML baseball team is coached by Ken Harring. In March, he earned his 500th career win with the River Hawks’ 17-3 rout of Holy Cross. In May, UML made it to the America East championship game for the first time in program history.
“Seeing the season ticket from 1925, I immediately imagined what the players were wearing and how the field looked,” Harring says. “Baseball carries on for generations. The uniforms and fans change over time, but the game and the field remain the same. There is no other game like it.”