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Barry to Speak at First Year Convocation Sept. 13

Dan Barry is the author of Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game.

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 6, 2012

Dan Barry, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter and columnist for the New York Times, will address the ninth annual First Year Academic Convocation next Thursday in Conte Forum, speaking about his book Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball’s Longest Game, an award-winning chronicle of the longest baseball game ever played.
Barry’s 7 p.m. speech will follow “First Flight,” the freshman procession to Conte from Linden Lane, where members of the University’s Jesuit Community, faculty and administration offer a blessing and challenge BC’s newest students to answer the call of Society of Jesus Founder St. Ignatius of Loyola to “set the world aflame.”

As part of the First Year Experience program that guides freshman students, every member of the Class of 2016 received a copy of Bottom of the 33rd, a book selected to unite new students in conversation, welcome them to their academic studies and initiate their growth as men and women for others.

“We’ve created a fairly expansive effort to integrate a variety of experiences, ideas and people within the mission of the university, which is both academic and formational,” said Fr. Joseph Marchese, director of First Year Experience. “We include not only undergraduates, but also alumni, administration and faculty in a very important ritual. The theme extends 500 years back to St. Ignatius himself, whose words still urge us today to go ‘set the world aflame.’”
A detailed account of the 33-inning minor league baseball game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings played April 18-19, 1981, in Pawtucket, RI, Bottom of the 33rd offers examples of aspiration and perseverance, as well as hope and redemption, Fr. Marchese said.

In Bottom of the 33rd, Barry tells the stories of future major league stars and career minor leaguers. Along the way, he also chronicles other participants in the game, including umpires, batboys and fans who endured the marathon game on a cold April night. The study of America’s pastime touches on the history of the Boston Red Sox top-level minor league team, its host city of Pawtucket, RI, and McCoy Stadium.

Fr. Marchese said there are deliberate connections between the book and events this year that will mark the University’s 150th anniversary celebration. Just two days after First Year Convocation, the Boston Red Sox 100-year-old Fenway Park will be the site of a Sesquicentennial Mass for Boston College students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The book has earned critical praise, including last month’s announcement that Barry will receive the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for a nonfiction book on the subject of sports. 

Fr. Marchese said the class reading assignment is a valuable opportunity to inspire students to appreciate carefully crafted books in an age where technological tools are re-shaping the way people think about the written word.
“Reading is something we need to work very hard at today, in an age where texting and the Internet have become the primary ways in which students communicate and find their information,” said Fr. Marchese. “We want to keep their minds open to the idea of literature – in the form of great nonfiction and fiction – as a way of being a learner throughout life.”