Official confirmation: No to Cannonball’s records

As a follow-up to this post, last week I received a phone message from Sara Kalvin, public relations official at Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood, Long Island, New York, who, after looking into my requests about the possible release of Cannonball Dick Redding’s records from when he was in the psychiatric facility in the 1940s (he died there in 1948 under reportedly “mysterious circumstances”), told me that yes indeed, the state’s privacy laws prevent the release of all such medical records of patients in such psychiatric hospitals and, therefore, Redding’s files cannot be forthcoming.

That leaves the the receipt of the official letter from Pilgrim denying the similar written request for the release of records I sent a couple months ago. That hopefully forthcoming communication should confirm Ms. Kalvin’s determination. Oh well.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for what could be my last hope for finding out why a legendary pitcher like Dick Redding was sent to a mental asylum and, more importantly, how and why he died there — a request for the release of his medical records from Veteran Affairs. Cannonball actively served in Europe during World war I, and I’m hoping the century of time between then and now, as well as the 66 years since his death, is enough time to allow for the issuance of his military health records. I’ll keep on this and keep you posted.

At this point, I want to mention a very insightful email of advice sent to me after I put up the aforementioned post. A close friend, confidant and great help to me work wisely recommended last week that even though I’m a trained journalist with pit bull instincts, when it comes to historical research like this, it’s often best to use the honey-instead-of-vinegar approach and take it easy when approaching official sources and institutions like Ms. Kalvin and Pilgrim hospital.

He suggested I ease off a bit for a while on the Dick Redding matter, and after reflection, I think it’s advice I will definitely heed. I’m still trying to find the right balance I’m trying to strike between journalist and historical researcher, and my friend’s suggestions were extremely timely and needed to kind of get me back on an even keel. many thanks to him.

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