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60+ revealing moments of baseball by Russell Baker, Robert Coover, Joseph Durso, Curt Flood, Peter Gammons, Donald Hall, Dan Okrent, William Safire, Gay Talese, George F. Will, and many more
Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Forget Alexander Joy Cartwright and the New York Knickerbockers. Instead, meet Daniel Lucius Adams, William Rufus Wheaton, and Louis Fenn Wadsworth, each of whom has a stronger claim to baseball paternity than Doubleday or Cartwright. But did baseball even have a father--or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball's preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie, not only the Doubleday legend, so long recognized with a wink and a nudge. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling (much like cricket, a far more popular game in early America), a proxy form of class warfare, infused with racism as was the larger society, invigorated if ultimately corrupted by gamblers, hustlers, and shady entrepreneurs. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. He shows how the sport's increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. And he charts the rise of secret professionalism and the origin of the notorious "reserve clause," essential innovations for gamblers and capitalists. No matter how much you know about the history of baseball, you will find something new in every chapter. Thorn also introduces us to a host of early baseball stars who helped to drive the tremendous popularity and growth of the game in the post-Civil War era: Jim Creighton, perhaps the first true professional player; Candy Cummings, the pitcher who claimed to have invented the curveball; Albert Spalding, the ballplayer who would grow rich from the game and shape its creation myth; Hall of Fame brothers George and Harry Wright; Cap Anson, the first man to record three thousand hits and a virulent racist; and many others. Add bluff, bluster, and bravado, and toss in an illicit romance, an unknown son, a lost ball club, an epidemic scare, and you have a baseball detective story like none ever written. Thorn shows how a small religious cult became instrumental in the commission that was established to determine the origins of the game and why the selection of Abner Doubleday as baseball's father was as strangely logical as it was patently absurd. Entertaining from the first page to the last, Baseball in the Garden of Eden is a tale of good and evil, and the snake proves the most interesting character. It is full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes; it contains more scandal by far than the 1919 Black Sox World Series fix. More than a history of the game, Baseball in the Garden of Eden tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed--all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime.
Long before Moneyball became a sensation or Nate Silver turned the knowledge he'd honed on baseball into electoral gold, John Thorn and Pete Palmer were using statistics to shake the foundations of the game. First published in 1984, The Hidden Game of Baseball ushered in the sabermetric revolution by demonstrating that we were thinking about baseball stats--and thus the game itself--all wrong. Instead of praising sluggers for gaudy RBI totals or pitchers for wins, Thorn and Palmer argued in favor of more subtle measurements that correlated much more closely to the ultimate goal: winning baseball games. The new gospel promulgated by Thorn and Palmer opened the door for a flood of new questions, such as how a ballpark's layout helps or hinders offense or whether a strikeout really is worse than another kind of out. Taking questions like these seriously--and backing up the answers with data--launched a new era, showing fans, journalists, scouts, executives, and even players themselves a new, better way to look at the game. This brand-new edition retains the body of the original, with its rich, accessible analysis rooted in a deep love of baseball, while adding a new introduction by the authors tracing the book's influence over the years. A foreword by ESPN's lead baseball analyst, Keith Law, details The Hidden Game's central role in the transformation of baseball coverage and team management and shows how teams continue to reap the benefits of Thorn and Palmer's insights today. Thirty years after its original publication, The Hidden Game is still bringing the high heat--a true classic of baseball literature.
More than just a lavishly illustrated and highly readable book, Wrigley Field Year-by-Year is the result of a quarter century of meticulous research. Written by a baseball historian and recognized authority on "the Friendly Confines," this is the first book to detail each year of the storied park's existence. The book covers not only the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Federal League baseball team in detail, it touches on the Chicago Bears football team, basketball, hockey, high school sports, track and field, and political rallies. It references activities and changes throughout the park and in its neighborhood on Chicago's North Side. In addition to pertinent Cubs statistics, the author's year-by-year coverage includes: A "game of the year" A description of unusual and interesting happenings in the ballpark A quote from the year that best captures its essenceSupplementing the year-by-year approach are nine chapters that divide Wrigley Field's storied history into nine "innings," along with informative appendixes that will delight every Cubs fan, from the casual to the obsessed. The book's easy-to-use format and wealth of information make it a resource that readers will turn to again and again.
One of the classic baseball stories, You Know Me Al, first published in 1914, tells the story of the fictional Jack Keefe, a bush league baseball player who earns a trip to the majors to pitch for the Chicago White Sox. Set in pre-World War I, the book is comprised of letters that Keefe sends to his "old pal" Al. Through the letters, the self-centered Keefe reveals his regular struggles to maintain his position in the big leagues as well as his personal life and juggle his financial difficulties. Nevertheless, the tales from on and off the field as he travels with the team are full of wit, insight, and entertainment. They include Keefe's encounters with baseball legends such as Ty Cobb, Charles Comiskey, Walter Johnson, and Eddie Cicotte.In this edition of the book, which includes a foreword by acclaimed writer John Thorn, readers can relive all of the glory of this historic era of baseball through the eyes of one of Ring Lardner's most comical characters, a century after his creation!
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