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The National Pastime during the Civil War
During the Civil War, Americans from homefront to battlefront played baseball as never before. While soldiers slaughtered each other over the country's fate, players and fans struggled over the form of the national pastime. George Kirsch gives us a color commentary of the growth and transformation of baseball during the Civil War. He shows that the game was a vital part of the lives of many a soldier and civilian--and that baseball's popularity had everything to do with surging American nationalism.
By 1860, baseball was poised to emerge as the American sport. Clubs in northeastern and a few southern cities played various forms of the game. Newspapers published statistics, and governing bodies set rules. But the Civil War years proved crucial in securing the game's place in the American heart. Soldiers with bats in their rucksacks spread baseball to training camps, war prisons, and even front lines. As nationalist fervor heightened, baseball became patriotic. Fans honored it with the title of national pastime. War metaphors were commonplace in sports reporting, and charity games were scheduled. Decades later, Union general Abner Doubleday would be credited (wrongly) with baseball's invention. The Civil War period also saw key developments in the sport itself, including the spread of the New York-style of play, the advent of revised pitching rules, and the growth of commercialism.
Kirsch recounts vivid stories of great players and describes soldiers playing ball to relieve boredom. He introduces entrepreneurs who preached the gospel of baseball, boosted female attendance, and found new ways to make money. We witness bitterly contested championships that enthralled whole cities. We watch African Americans embracing baseball despite official exclusion. And we see legends spring from the pens of early sportswriters.
Rich with anecdotes and surprising facts, this narrative of baseball's coming-of-age reveals the remarkable extent to which America's national pastime is bound up with the country's defining event.
The Origin of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption
The controversial 1922 Federal Baseball Supreme Court ruling held that the "business of base ball" was not subject to the Sherman Antitrust Act because it did not constitute interstate commerce. In Baseball on Trial, legal scholar Nathaniel Grow defies conventional wisdom to explain why the unanimous Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, which gave rise to Major League Baseball's exemption from antitrust law, was correct given the circumstances of the time.Currently a billion dollar enterprise, professional baseball teams crisscross the country while the games are broadcast via radio, television, and internet coast to coast. The sheer scope of this activity would seem to embody the phrase "interstate commerce." Yet baseball is the only professional sport--indeed the sole industry--in the United States that currently benefits from a judicially constructed antitrust immunity. How could this be?Drawing upon recently released documents from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Grow analyzes how the Supreme Court reached this seemingly peculiar result by tracing the Federal Baseball litigation from its roots in 1914 to its resolution in 1922, in the process uncovering significant new details about the proceedings. Grow observes that while interstate commerce was measured at the time by the exchange of tangible goods, baseball teams in the 1910s merely provided live entertainment to their fans, while radio was a fledgling technology that had little impact on the sport. The book ultimately concludes that, despite the frequent criticism of the opinion, the Supreme Court's decision was consistent with the conditions and legal climate of the early twentieth century.
Adjusted Batting Performance from Strikeouts to Home Runs
Over baseball history, which park has been the best for run scoring?1 Which player would lose the most home runs after adjustments for ballpark effect?2 Which player claims four of the top five places for best individual seasons ever played, based on all-around offensive performance.3 (See answers, below).
These are only three of the intriguing questions Michael Schell addresses in Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers, a lively examination of the game of baseball using the most sophisticated statistical tools available. The book provides an in-depth evaluation of every major offensive event in baseball history, and identifies the players with the 100 best seasons and most productive careers. For the first time ever, ballpark effects across baseball history are presented for doubles, triples, right- and left-handed home-run hitting, and strikeouts. The book culminates with a ranking of the game's best all-around batters.
Using a brisk conversational style, Schell brings to the plate the two most important credentials essential to producing a book of this kind: an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and a professional background in statistics. Building on the traditions of renowned baseball historians Pete Palmer and Bill James, he has analyzed the most important factors impacting the sport, including the relative difficulty of hitting in different ballparks, the length of hitters' careers, the talent pool from which players are drawn, player aging, and changes in the game that have raised or lowered major-league batting averages.
Schell's book finally levels the playing field, giving new credit to hitters who played in adverse conditions, and downgrading others who faced fewer obstacles. It also provides rankings based on players' positions. For example, Derek Jeter ranks 295th out of 1,140 on the best batters list, but jumps to 103rd in the position-adjusted list, reflecting his offensive prowess among shortstops.
Replete with dozens of never-before reported stories and statistics, Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers will forever shape the way baseball fans view the greatest heroes of America's national pastime.
Answers: 1. Coors Field 2. Mel Ott 3. Barry Bonds, 2001-2004 seasons
With the possible exception of 2004 no season in the history of baseball has matched 1924 for escalating excitement and emotional investment by fans. It began with observers expecting yet another World Series between the Yankees and the Giants. It ended months later when the Washington Nationals (Senators), making their first Series appearance, grabbed the world championship by scoring the season-ending run on an improbable play in the bottom of the twelfth inning of the seventh game. On the eve of the return of major league baseball to Washington, D.C., Baseball's Greatest Season recovers the memory of the one and only time when the championship of the national pastime resided in the nation's capital.
Yankees, Mariners, and the 1995 Matchup That Changed History
This division series was not simply about two teams playing five postseason games. It was about Ken Griffey Jr., Lou Piniella, Buck Showalter, Gene Michael, Jim Leyritz, Randy Johnson, Wade Boggs, Tony Fernandez, Pat Kelly, Dion James, Darryl Strawberryùand many others who changed the course of baseball history . . .
A team playing to keep baseball alive in the Pacific Northwest
A manager who was literally managing for his job
A New York sports icon who for one week reminded everybody of the dominating player he had been a decade earlier
Chris Donnelly's replay of this entire season reminds readers that it was a time when grown men cried their eyes out after defeat, and others, just a few hundred feet away, poured beer and champagne over one another while 57,000 people in Seattle's Kingdome celebrated. Five games they were. Five games that reminded people, after the devastating players' strike in 1994, how great a game baseball is because comebacks are always possible, no matter how great the obstacles may seem.
From Don Mattingly's only postseason home run, which caused a near riot, to Edgar Martinez's legendary eleventh inning series-clinching double, Donnelly chronicles the earlier struggles of both teams during the 1980s, their mid-1990s resurgence, all five heart-stopping games of the series, and the dramatic and long-lasting effects of Seattle's victory. Simply stated, Baseball's Greatest Series hits a home run.
With personal interviews of players and owners and with over two decades of research in newspapers and archives, Bill Marshall tells of the players, the pennant races, and the officials who shaped one of the most memorable eras in sports and American history.
At the end of World War II, soldiers returning from overseas hungered to resume their love affair with baseball. Spectators still identified with players, whose salaries and off-season employment as postmen, plumbers, farmers, and insurance salesmen resembled their own. It was a time when kids played baseball on sandlots and in pastures, fans followed the game on the radio, and tickets were affordable. The outstanding play of Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Don Newcombe, Warren Spahn, and many others dominated the field. But perhaps no performance was more important than that of Jackie Robinson, whose entrance into the game broke the color barrier, won him the respect of millions of Americans, and helped set the stage for the civil rights movement.
Baseball's Pivotal Era, 1945-1951 also records the attempt to organize the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Mexican League's success in luring players south of the border that led to a series of lawsuits that almost undermined baseball's reserve clause and antitrust exemption. The result was spring training pay, uniform contracts, minimum salary levels, player representation, and a pension plan--the very issues that would divide players and owners almost fifty years later.
During these years, the game was led by A.B. "Happy" Chandler, a hand-shaking, speech-making, singing Kentucky politician. Most owners thought he would be easily manipulated, unlike baseball's first commissioner, the autocratic Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Instead, Chandler's style led one owner to complain that he was the "player's commissioner, the fan's commissioner, the press and radio commissioner, everybody's commissioner but the men who pay him."
How the Players Union, the Fans, and the Media Changed American Sports Culture
From Major League Baseball’s inception in the 1880s through World War II, team owners enjoyed monopolistic control of the industry. Despite the players’ desire to form a viable union, every attempt to do so failed. The labor consciousness of baseball players lagged behind that of workers in other industries, and the public was largely in the dark about labor practices in baseball. In the mid-1960s, star players Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale staged a joint holdout for multiyear contracts and much higher salaries. Their holdout quickly drew support from the public; for the first time, owners realized they could ill afford to alienate fans, their primary source of revenue.
Baseball’s Power Shift chronicles the growth and development of the union movement in Major League Baseball and the key role of the press and public opinion in the players’ successes and failures in labor-management relations. Swanson focuses on the most turbulent years, 1966 to 1981, which saw the birth of the Major League Baseball Players Association as well as three strikes, two lockouts, Curt Flood’s challenge to the reserve clause in the Supreme Court, and the emergence of full free agency. To defeat the owners, the players’ union needed support from the press, and perhaps more importantly, the public. With the public on their side, the players ushered in a new era in professional sports when salaries skyrocketed and fans began to care as much about the business dealings of their favorite team as they do about wins and losses.
Swanson shows how fans and the media became key players in baseball's labor wars and paved the way for the explosive growth in the American sports economy.
Sports at the University of Kentucky, 1880-1940
In the heart of the Bluegrass, basketball is king of collegiate athletics. But it wasn't always so. Before Big Blue chronicles the early history of organized sports at the University of Kentucky, from the tenuous beginnings under student leadership, through the early scandals, financial instability, and clashes with administration, to the Purge of 1938 that paved the way for basketball's ascendancy.
Once upon a time in Lexington, football ruled the athletic department. In the 1890s and 1900s the most intense competition was with crosstown rival Transylvania University. The annual Thanksgiving Day game was the biggest event of the season, and its gate receipts essentially funded the entire department. Among other highlights, Gregory Kent Stanley reveals the story behind the Wildcats' nickname, reports on the "greased pants game" against Mississippi State in 1914, and divulges the origins of the post-victory nightshirt parades through downtown.
When basketball finally arrived on campus, it was the women's team that was organized first. Its transfer out of the women's physical education department in 1903 led to a twenty-year turf war that was one of the period's most intense. Whether played by men or by women, however, basketball during the early years of the century was of minor consequence. The men's team played in a gym without facilities for spectators, most players were from the football team, and all the early coaches -- including Adolph Rupp -- assisted with the football program. Nevertheless, the early years showed signs of the success to come: the 9-0 team of 1912, which never trailed an opponent; the 1921 squad, losers of only one game and winners of the school's first tournament; and Rupp's winning percentage of.820 during the 1930s that saved his job during President McVey's massive reorganization of the athletic department.
Before Big Blue tells a story both unique and universal. As the first comprehensive history of the rise of intercollegiate athletics at UK, it makes a valuable contribution to the growing literature of sports history.
The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers
While the accomplishments and influence of Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali are doubtless impressive solely on their merits, these luminaries of the black sporting experience did not emerge spontaneously. Their rise was part of a gradual evolution in social and power relations in American culture between the 1890s and 1940s that included athletes such as jockey Isaac Murphy, barnstorming pilot Bessie Coleman, and golfer Teddy Rhodes. The contributions of these early athletes to our broader collective history, and their heroic confrontations with the entrenched racism of their times, helped bring about the incremental changes that after 1945 allowed for sports to be more fully integrated.
Before Jackie Robinson details and analyzes the lives of these lesser-known but important athletes within the broader history of black liberation. These figures not only excelled in their given sports but also transcended class and racial divides in making inroads into popular culture despite the societal restrictions placed on them. They were also among the first athletes to blur the line between athletics, entertainment, and celebrity culture. This volume presents a more nuanced account of early African American athletes’ lives and their ongoing struggle for acceptance, relevance, and personal and group identity.