|Intro||American biographer, historian, writer and businessman|
|Is||Historian Writer Biographer Businessperson|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Business Literature Science Social science|
|Birth||27 March 1957, Binghamton, Broome County, New York, USA|
|Residence||Hebron, Connecticut, USA; Florida, USA|
Mark Allen Baker (born 27 March 1957), is an American former business executive, writer, author, biographer, and historian.
Known for his work on American culture, history, and sports, Baker has written over twenty books including biographies on five boxing Hall of Famers: Battling Nelson, the Durable Dane: World Lightweight Champion, 1882-1954 (2016), The Fighting Times of Abe Attell (2017), Lou Ambers: A Biography of the World Lightweight Champion and Hall of Famer (2021), Willie Pep, A Biography of the 20th Century's Greatest Featherweight (2022), and Tony Canzoneri, The Boxing Life of a Five-Time World Champion (2023).
His books have received introductions from numerous well-known athletes and entertainers such as Joe Sewell(Baseball Hall of Fame, Lou Gehrig's roommate), Max Patkin (Cleveland Indians coach, Clown Prince of Baseball, actor "Bull Durham"), and Kermit "Shine" Forbes (Ernest Hemingway's boxing sparring partner ). Additional contributors have also included Charlie Gehringer (Baseball Hall of Fame), A. Bartlett Giamatti (Baseball commissioner), Bobby Doerr (Baseball Hall of Fame), Jeff Gordon (racing driver), Paul Newman (Actor, Racing), Mario Andretti (Racing driver) and Andrew Wyeth (painter/artist).
Baker also serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. He was accorded a Lifetime Award of Merit by the State University of New York in 2022.
Early life and education
Mark Allen Baker was born on March 27, 1957, in Binghamton, New York, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and central New York.
He attended Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, New York, and then went to the State University of New York at Oswego, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic arts and physics. During his undergraduate work, he was active in the central New York music scene promoting or assisting with over fifty shows including Aerosmith, Boston, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Billy Joel, Kiss, John Mayall, Queen, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen.
Baker did his postgraduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe County, New York; and George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
After completing his education, Baker joined General Electric Corporation in 1980, working on computer graphics and digital imaging in Genigraphics division. (Genigraphics is a large-format printing service bureau specializing in providing poster session services to medical and scientific conferences throughout the US and Canada. It began in 1973 as a division of General Electric.) In May 1989, Pansophic Systems—a Lisle, Illinois-based software products and services firm, acquired Genigraphics Corporation. Baker left a few months later. Over the years, while working at Genigraphics, he held various positions including Trainer, Program Manager, Art Director, Marketing Research Manager, and Executive Assistant to the CEO.
While working at Genigraphics, Baker also owned and operated a sports bar/restaurant/museum named "Bleachers" in Liverpool, New York, from 1990 to 1993. The 8,000 sq. ft. facility hosted many famous and diverse events from reception for Stars on Ice (a touring figure skating show produced by IMG), featuring noted American figure skaters Scott Hamilton and Debbie Thomas to a Monday Night radio show hosted by famous sportscaster Mike Tirico. Tirico hosted his first show on WAER radio in Syracuse, New York, the radio station where he started this sports broadcasting career, on the campus of Syracuse University. It was broadcast live from Bleachers during the NFL football season before Monday Night Football.
After leaving the business world, Baker dedicated his time to writing and illustrating technical articles—something that he had been doing passively for many years.
In July 1990, Baker with Robert F. Lemke co-authored Baseball Autograph Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Authentication and Valuation of Hall of Fame Autographs with Krause Publications. It was followed by Team Baseballs: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification, Authentication and Value of Autographed Baseballs in 1992.
In 1996, he published Collector's Guide to Celebrity Autographs , a directory with addresses of over 5,000 celebrities and hundreds of autographs of such noted people as the model Tyra Banks, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, fashion designer Oleg Cassini, singer-songwriter Ray Charles, actress Leslie Charleson, comedian/actor Chevy Chase, and actress Faye Dunaway.
Beginning in 2010, Baker turned his attention to writing about regional history (North East US), with Title Town USA: Boxing in Canastota, New York, published by The History Press in May 2010. The book talked about many famed professional New York boxers including Jack Britton, Harry Greb, Sam Langford, Tommy Ryan, Carmen Basilio, and Billy Backus. The book's foreword was written by Edward P. Brophy, Executive Director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
A few months later, in October 2010, he released Basketball History in Syracuse, Hoops Roots, also with The History Press. The book tracks professional basketball history in Syracuse and includes teams like (Vic Hanson's) All-Americans, the Syracuse Reds, and the Syracuse Nationals (1946–1963). It talks about many local basketball players including Danny Biasone, Wilt Chamberlain, Harry Hough, Banty Marshall, and Nat Holman, and sports physician James Naismith and promoter Ned Irish.
In 2014, Baker published Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale. The book introduces readers to the role the state played in intelligence gathering during the American Revolution. From coded messages and invisible ink to early submarines with the first exploding torpedoes, the book incorporates chapters on Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, Edward Bancroft, David Bushnell, Enoch Crosby, Silas Deane, Nathan Hale, Thomas Knowlton, Ezra Lee and even the spy ring The Culper Ring. Lesser-known spies are also included, such as Dr. Samuel Adams, James Aitken, Daniel Bissell, John Clark, William Heron, Solomon Jones, Nehemiah Marks, and Noah Phelps.
Also in 2014, he released Connecticut Families of the Revolution: American Forebears from Burr to Wolcott (Military) with The History Press. The book takes readers inside the homes of the state's most patriotic families, featuring the relatives of lawyer and politician Oliver Ellsworth, Nathan Hale, soldier and politician David Humphreys, jurist/politician Samuel Huntington, William Samuel Johnson, lawyer and military general Samuel Holden Parsons, pastor Samuel Peters, teacher Sarah Pierce, military general Israel Putnam, judge Tapping Reeve, lawyer/politician Roger Sherman, military officer and politician Benjamin Tallmadge, Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, political writer/author Noah Webster, Oliver Wolcott, and military officer David Wooster. Connecticut women, such as Elizabeth Hull, Lucretia Shaw, socialite Eunice Burr, and matriarch Mary Silliman are also featured for their valuable contribution to the American Revolution.
In the mid-2010s, Baker began writing biographies. In November 2016, he released Battling Nelson, the Durable Dane: World Lightweight Champion, 1882-1954, a biographical account of Danish-American professional boxer Oscar "Battling" Nelson for McFarland & Company. As the toughest and most durable professional boxer ever to enter a ring, Nelson held the World Lightweight Championship from 1908 until 1910. Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992, Nelson is often recalled for his boxing trilogy with boxer Joe Gans, which is still considered one of the greatest in sports history.
Next, in November 2017, he published his nineteenth book—The Fighting Times of Abe Attell about the boxing champ Abraham Washington Attell (1883–1970), aka "The Little Hebrew". Recognized for his record-setting, six-year consecutive reign as World Featherweight Champion from 1906-1912, Attell was among the cleverest, most scientific professional boxers ever to enter the ring. His success inspired his brothers Caesar Attell and Monte Attell to take up boxing. Abe and Monte both held simultaneous world titles for a time. Growing up poor and Jewish in a predominantly Irish neighborhood, Attell faced his share of adversity and anti-semitism in and out of the ring. He was charged for alleged involvement in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. The charges were dropped but Attell was branded by association for the remainder of his life. During the third week in January 2017, the book hit the top spot on Amazon's List of Hot New Releases in Boxer Biographies.
Baker's next release was Connecticut in World War II for Arcadia Publishing Library Editions. The book, consisting of over 200 black & white images, takes the reader on a personal tour of Connecticut during World War II. It shows the people, places, and things that made the Connecticut home front as dynamic and accomplished as those on the front lines.
Baker's upcoming book in 2023, Tony Canzoneri, The Boxing Life of a Five-Time World Champion, is a biographical account of boxer Tony Canzoneri.
Social science books
In July 2019, Baker published his twenty-first book, Between the Ropes at Madison Square Garden: The History of an Iconic Boxing Ring, 1925-2007. The book covers boxing history in the United States and the significance of the boxing ring in Madison Square Garden in New York City from 1925 to 2007. The ring now rests at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
August 2020 saw the release of Baker's The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937, which talks about
Black boxers such as Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Sam Langford, and Peter Jackson. Commenting about the book, Baker says, "[It] was originally used in reference to the racial segregation that existed in the United States after the abolition of slavery. So how in the world did it end up in boxing? Did the sport eliminate the color line? Searching for answers, I found none... I discovered intriguing books on the periphery of the issue, but no single reference that got to the heart of the matter. There were no reliable sources for all the details I sought."
From 2007 to 2010, Baker was an editor for "The Pen & Quill," a journal for historical manuscripts.
Currently, a contributing writer to numerous periodicals, including Goldmine magazine, he has focused much of his recent attention on music. He has also spoken at many historical sites including the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse in New London, Connecticut, and even given the 2015 Keynote Address at the annual meeting of the Norwich Historical Society inside the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, Connecticut.
On May 16, 2015, Baker was awarded a certificate of appreciation "For Outstanding Preservation and Promotion of American History" by the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution. The organization Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States' independence.
Baker served as a member of the Hebron (Connecticut) Charter Revision Commission (2018-2019) and was elected to the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (2019).
Baker's numerous radio appearances have included: Bridgeport, CT (WICC); New York, NY (WFAN); Santa Rosa, CA (KXXY); Syracuse, NY (WSEN, WHEN); and Tampa, FL (WNBA). He has been seen on Metro TV, New York, NY, and numerous local channels as a television guest. Following his 1997 book, Goldmine's Price Guide to Rock & Roll Memorabilia, he appeared as a co-host on the VH-1 series Rock Collectors.
As a speaker, Baker has attended many events including the Hemingway Days Festival & Writers Conference in Key West, Florida.
Awards and recognition
- Lifetime Donor Membership National Baseball Hall of Fame
- Historian International Boxing Hall of Fame
- Elected to the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (2019)
- For Outstanding Preservation and Promotion of American History – DAR
- Lifetime Award of Merit (2022) - State University of New York
- Award-Winning Finalist in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category of the 2020 Best Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest.
- Represented in over 1,400 library holdings including The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, International Boxing Hall of Fame, Museum of African American History, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
- Battling Nelson, The Durable Dane (2016) ISBN|978-1-4766-6372-2
- The Fighting Times of Abe Attell (2017) ISBN|978-1476664323
- Lou Ambers: A Biography of the World Lightweight Champion and Hall of Famer (2021) ISBN|978-1476682204
- Willie Pep, A Biography of the 20th Century's Greatest Featherweight (2022) ISBN| 1476685525
- Tony Canzoneri, The Boxing Life of a Five-Time World Champion (2023) SKU: 9781476689630
Sports & Social Science
- Between The Ropes at Madison Square Garden, The History of an Iconic Boxing Ring, 1925-2007 (2019) ISBN| 978-1-4766-7183-3
- The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937 (Drawing The Color Line)(2020) ISBN| 978-1-4766-7765-1
- Connecticut in World War II (Images of America) (2017, softcover) ISBN|978-1-4671-2698-4; (Images of America) (2017, hardcover) ISBN|978-1-5402-2672-3
National and Regional History
- A Guide to Hemingway's Key West (2022, softcover) ISBN|978-1467151023
- Connecticut Boxing, The Fights, The Fighters and The Fight Game (2021, softcover) ISBN|978-1-4671-48085
- Connecticut Families of the Revolution, American Forebears from Burr to Wolcott (2014, softcover) ISBN|978-1-62619-664-3; (2014, hardcover) ISBN|978-1540211361
- Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale (2014, softcover) ISBN|978-1-62619-407-6; (2014, hardcover) ISBN|978-1540223210
- Basketball History in Syracuse, Hoops Roots (2010, softcover) ISBN|978-1-59629-983-2; (2010, hardcover) ISBN|978-1540229533
- Title Town USA: Boxing in Upstate New York (2010, softcover) ISBN|978-1-59629-769-2; (2010, hardcover) ISBN|978-1540234605
Reference and Popular Culture
- The Official Autograph Collector Price Guide (2004) ISBN|0-9669710-9-4
- Celebrity Autographs, Second Edition (2000) ISBN|0-87341-838-7
- Advanced Autograph Collecting (2000) ISBN|0-87341-632-5
- The Standard Guide to Collecting Autographs (1999) ISBN|0-87341-613-
- Goldmine's Price Guide to Rock & Roll Memorabilia (1997) ISBN|978-0-87341-490-6
- Celebrity Autographs (1996) ISBN|0-87341-464-0
- Auto Racing Memorabilia and Price Guide (1996) ISBN|0-87341-437-3
- All-Sport Autograph Guide (1994) ISBN|0-87341-316-
- Team Baseballs: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification, Authentication and Value of Autographed Baseballs (1992) ISBN|0-87341-316-4
- Baseball Autograph Handbook, Second edition (1990) ISBN|0-87341-169-2
- Baseball Autograph Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Authentication and Valuation of Hall of Fame Autographs (1990) ISBN|0-87341-125-0
- Boxing Legends of All-Time by Robert Cassidy, Jr. and Steve Nicolaisen. Publications International, 1996. ISBN|9780785316909
- The Complete Guide to Baseball Memorabilia by Mark Larson. Krause Publications, 1992. ISBN|0873411900
- Mickey Mantle Memorabilia (Sports Collectors Digest) by Mark Larson and Dave Platta. Krause Publications, 1993. ISBN|0873412613
- Antique Golf Collectibles: A Price and Reference Guide by Chuck Furjanic. Krause Publications, 2003. ISBN|0873496728
- Computer Graphics for Designers and Artists by Isaac Kerlow and Judson Rosebush. Van Nostrand and Reinhold Company, 1986. ISBN|9780442014308
- Computer Graphics by John Lewell. Van Nostrand and Reinhold Company, 1983. ISBN|978-0442260453
Baker lives in New England and Florida. He has three children: Aaron (b. 1985), Elizabeth (b. 1986), and Rebecca (b. 1990).