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03/22/11 2:00 PM ET
Thorn to share stage with Keillor at special event
MLB's official historian, radio host to have unscripted discussion
By Tyler Mason / Special to MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- John Thorn has received critical acclaim for his work as an author and baseball historian. On March 29, Thorn will share the stage with someone whom he has nothing but high praise for. Thorn will be the guest of Garrison Keillor for an evening of conversation at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Keillor, host of "A Prairie Home Companion," will welcome the official baseball historian for Major League Baseball for an unscripted discussion. "He is the Mark Twain of our period," Thorn said of Keillor. "He is universally loved. He's regularly in our households. He has the gift of raw humor." Commissioner Bud Selig named Thorn as MLB's official historian on March 1. Two weeks later, Thorn's new book, "Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game," hit bookshelves. While Thorn said Keillor will lead the direction of their conversation, there's a good chance Thorn's newest book will be a topic of discussion. "The research had been going on for 25 years. ... I've been writing it for six or seven years," Thorn said of his latest work, which he said mainly covers the sport's history between the 1830s and 1939. "While this book is about baseball's earliest years, it is also a story about the fabrication of legend." The conversation at the Fitzgerald Theater, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be the first meeting between Thorn and Keillor -- although their paths have crossed a time or two before. Thorn worked as an on-screen historian for Ken Burns' PBS series "Baseball." Keillor, a Minnesota native and Twins fan, lent his voice to the series. Thorn also said he anthologized one of Keillor's Lake Wobegon excerpts in "The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball," which Thorn edited. Prior to his latest book, Thorn co-authored several other baseball publications, including the semi-annual "Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game" and the book "Total Baseball." He said he wrote his first book in 1974 "kind of by accident," and has continued to combine his passions of writing, baseball and history, ever since. "I've had lots of great moments, and made wonderful friends," Thorn said. "Baseball remains the river that runs through my whole life." As for the event with Keillor, Thorn says he won't do any research to prepare. Whatever happens, happens. "I'm looking forward to it," Thorn said. "I'm not in control of the agenda. ... I would say the old PR line is, 'Expect the unexpected.'" Tickets for the event are available through the Fitzgerald Theater's box office, at Common Good Books in St. Paul, or through Ticketmaster. All tickets are $20, and each ticket is good for $10 off Thorn's new book.
Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.