Yesterday we watched the Kentucky Derby, an annual tradition even though in Massachusetts itâ€™s barely springtime. When David announces that itâ€™s Derby Day we always say, â€œAlready?â€ Not the big hats and sleeveless dresses of Churchill Downs for us, but we do join in, no matter what the wweather here, with mint juleps. I had to scramble amid the mulch to find the very first tips of fresh mint, but there was enough, just. The Derby this year brought encyclopedias to mind in two ways. First, every time we watch a sporting event we are checking to make sure weâ€™ve covered the sport and the issues well enough in our new (going to the printers this week) Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport. Sponsorship of the Derby is going to NBC from next year, though VISA will continue to be happily involved, it seems. â€œThatâ€™s Media-Sport Complex,â€ said David, â€œweâ€™ve got an article on it.â€ “NBC Gets Ky. Derby Rights”
And when I watch the Derby I always think of Vince Davis, who wrote for one of my first encyclopedia projects, the Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations (which was eventually, long after Iâ€™d moved on, published by Oxford). Vince was long-time head of a diplomatic research center at the University of Kentucky and for some reason came to be my advisor on bourbon as well as U.S. diplomatic relations. Iâ€™d just returned to the States from the UK, so I think he was trying to get me reacclimated, and as a result, the only bourbon I drink is Makerâ€™s Mark.
The funny thing is that Iâ€™ve never met Vince–though he did invite David and me to go to Lexington and explore the idea of an Encyclopedia of Horse Racing, a tempting idea. Reference publishing gives us such opportunities to develop connections with fascinating people all over the world (and experts to turn to for advice on subjects ranging from gene mining to whiskey). And every year on Derby Day I drink a toast to my Kentucky friend.