OUR FIRST AT BAT (or a "Brief History of EFQ")
In the fall of 1980, Ken LaZebnik, an actor with the Mixed Blood Theater of Minneapolis, showed his friend Steve Lehman a mock-up for a publication that he had outlined on several pieces of folded notebook paper. Ken's idea was to have a journal of writing on baseball from the fan's perspective, "a quasi-literary quarterly that would provide a forum for baseball fans everywhere, from any walk of life, to express their interest in and abiding affection for the National Pastime."
Volume 1, No. 1 of The Minneapolis Review of Baseball appeared in January of 1981. It was 28 pages in length, with most of the writing contributed by Ken and his family members. With a pricetag of just 50 cents, the saddle-stitched publication was actually sold for less than what it cost to produce. Not quite the way one would launch a journal in today's market.
But that's exactly the point. Ken and Steve (who became a partner in the venture right off the bat, primarily because he owned a car) never set out to get rich. They just wanted to have fun with their twin loves of baseball and writing, and at the same time (as the journal's mission statement noted in the first issue) "to supply a rallying point for fan opinion." In fact, the MRB never made a dime in the ten years it was published, but it got a lot of attention in the small press, and over the years developed an almost cult-like following among ardent baseball fans from all walks of life. Although Ken left Minneapolis in 1984 to pursue his acting career in New York City (informing Steve that it was now his "turn to lose money on the journal"), Steve was soon joined by artist Andy Nelson, who added a professional design and vast array of classic baseball illustrations to each issue.
In 1990, the MRB was purchased by the William C. Brown Company, a textbook publisher based in Dubuque, Iowa that had started a baseball book division. Steve continued as editor and Andy as illustrator and designer, and in 1992 the journal was re-christened as Elysian Fields Quarterly, with a new, perfect bound binding becoming standard for every issue. In 1993, William C. Brown eliminated its newly created baseball division, and essentially gave the journal back to Steve and Andy to publish. Unfortunately, the new journal was much more expensive to produce than the old MRB, and with financial losses piling up, the two were forced to suspend publication in 1995.
Tom Goldstein, a St. Paul-based sports retailer with fond memories of both the MRB and EFQ, thought the journal too fine a publication to disappear from the baseball landscape. In late 1997, he persuaded Steve and Andy to help resurrect the journal, and in January, 1998, the "new" EFQ was reborn.
The great framework established by Ken LaZebnik almost twenty years ago remains in place today, and EFQ continues to define itself as a publication that serves as a "rallying point for baseball fans." As Goldstein noted in his first issue as the new publisher: "Sometimes it take someone else's dream to realize the potential in something great."
Postscript: Steve Lehman stepped down as editor in the summer of 2000
and since that time Tom Goldstein has served as editor and publisher, while
Lehman continues to assist the magazine as associate editor. In the spring
of 2002, Ben Coyour became EFQ's new illustrator.
BACK TO TOP
In the Batter's
Box Bring Us Home
On the Newsstand Sample
Submit a story Tell a Friend Advertise with us Our First at bat Privacy Statement
© 1999 - 2006 Elysian Fields Quarterly Web Master Dahlke Designs