When I retired in 1994, I received a plaque with a facsimile of my badge from the San Diego Country Probation Department. Later, I learned that my actual badge (#36) had been given to my friend and fellow supervisor Clyde Weston upon his retirement the previous year. Knowing Clyde, he wouldn't have known or cared that "36" wasn't his badge number. In 1993, I was given a small pin to acknowledge my 30 years of dedicated service to the County of San Diego. The County newspaper noted that Swank "worked his way up through the ranks." Now what?
I had planned to write a book about my probation experiences, but in the autumn of 1994, the San Diego Historical Society asked me to write an article about the Lane Field Padres for The Journal of San Diego History. "Runs, Hits and an Era," an exhibition featuring the Pacific Coast League, was coming to their museum in early 1995 and they needed somebody with a baseball background for assistance.
William G. Swank and James D. Smith III wrote "This was Paradise" which was published in The Journal of San Diego History. Whitey Weitelmann was featured on the cover. At the opening of the exhibition, I was introduced as the Society's "baseball historian." I'd never heard of a baseball historian before then.
During this time, I joined University of San Diego history professor Ray Brandes and co-authored a two-volume history of the Lane Field Padres shown above. These books were published in 1997 by the San Diego Padres.
My own book, Echoes from Lane Field, was published by Turner Publishing in 1999. It contains interviews with over 150 Lane Filed era Padres ballplayers. The book won second place in San Diego Press Club competition and received an honorable mention from the San Diego Book Awards.
This book begins on May 6, 1871 with the first pickup game of base ball on the present site of Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego. Rare baseball photos from the San Diego Historical Society illustrate the early years of our national pastime in America's Finest City.
The next book was inspired by a SABR tribute to Ted Williams held at the San Diego Hall of Champions on March 29, 2003 following his death in July 2002. My contributions, including the story about the first color action pictures of Ted which were shot by an amateur photographer named Heber Epperson at Lane Field on October 5, 1941, are shown below the book cover.