MANCHESTER, NH – “Base-ball is our game: the American game: I connect it with our national character,” the American poet Walt Whitman once told Horace L. Traubel, a devoted follower of Whitman’s work who published volumes of their conversations after the poet’s death in 1892.
New Yorker Jay Goldberg, who has been the artist-in-residence at The Factory on Willow since June 1, expands on this idea that baseball can connect Americans of vastly different ages and demographics in his multimedia project “The Memory of America: Remember Your First Baseball Game.”
Goldberg will showcase the project at an exhibit at The Factory on Willow on Thursday, Aug. 17.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a documentary film where Goldberg interviewed 30 Manchester residents—including a college president, a newspaper publisher, and a professional baseball scout—about the first baseball game they remember attending.
“Baseball is just the turnstile that gets us in the door to the conversation,” said Goldberg, who was born in Queens and is a lifelong Mets fan. “Most of the time people don’t remember if their team won or lost the game. It’s meaningless. The important factor is the memory itself. I’m trying to delve into why so many people have these memories.”
Despite the exhibit’s title, Goldberg said that the project isn’t really about baseball.
“If I were to describe the project in one word, it is ‘love.’ Love is part of every story in one way or another,” he said.
Goldberg, who is reluctant to identify as an artist, spent many years in sundry professions, ranging from a sports agent to owning a design studio in New York City. He said the idea for this project has always been “embedded” in him.
While he is uncertain exactly when the idea first came to him, he believes that a discussion with his father about his dad’s memory of his first baseball game may have been an impetus.
Goldberg’s father recalled to his son a game he attended in 1933 between the New York Yankees and the then-Philadelphia Athletics were Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Grove struck out fellow baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig a combined five times.
“These stories connect us through generations,” Goldberg said. “More often than not, there’s an intergenerational aspect to almost every story. Many of the people are not baseball fanatics, but they have these memories.”
Goldberg said that he believes the game is part of America’s collective memory, something people share in common and use to connect.
As for his experiences in Manchester these past three months, interviewing Queen City residents who were eager to share their individual memories, Goldberg said he is deeply grateful for how “welcoming” people have been to him, adding that the city’s sense of community became evident.
“One thing that is unique about the stories in Manchester, which has not come up anywhere else, is that people bring up community,” Goldberg said. “I’ve noticed that in Manchester, there is a sense of pride in their community, and I don’t see that in a lot of places in the country.”
While the exhibit will start to wind down Goldberg’s tenure as artist-in-resident, Goldberg leaves with fond “memories” of the city. “This will be one of the places I will come back to,” he said.
The exhibit is free to the public, and doors open for “The Memory of America: Remember Your First Baseball Game” at 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Visit The Factory on Willow events page to RSVP.
 Whitman’s remarks on our national pastime were later paraphrased, although presented as a direct quotation, the 1988 movie “Bull Durham.”
 Full disclosure: I was also interviewed for the documentary. I then interviewed Jay for this article in between games at a Fisher Cats’ double-header. It seemed fitting.