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Muhammad Ali Cover

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Muhammad Ali

The Making of an Icon

Michael Ezra

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) has always engendered an emotional reaction from the public. From his appearance as an Olympic champion to his iconic status as a national hero, his carefully constructed image and controversial persona has always been intensely scrutinized. In Muhammad Ali, Michael Ezra considers the boxer who calls himself “The Greatest” from a new perspective. He writes about Ali’s pre-championship bouts, the management of his career and his current legacy, exploring the promotional aspects of Ali and how they were wrapped up in political, economic, and cultural “ownership.”

Ezra’s incisive study examines the relationships between Ali’s cultural appeal and its commercial manifestations. Citing examples of the boxer’s relationship to the Vietnam War and the Nation of Islam—which serve as barometers of his “public moral authority”—Muhammad Ali analyzes the difficulties of creating and maintaining these cultural images, as well as the impact these themes have on Ali’s meaning to the public.

My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White Cover

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My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White

Andrew Furman

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, roughly half of Furman’s high school basketball teammates lived in the largely Anglo, and increasingly Jewish, San Fernando Valley, while the other half were African Americans bused in from the inner city. Los Angeles was embroiled in efforts to desegregate its public school district, one of the largest and most segregated in the country. Tensions came to a head as the state implemented its forced busing plan, a radical desegregation program that was hotly contested among Los Angeles residents—particularly among Valley residents—and at all levels of the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White, the high school’s basketball team serves as the entry point for a trenchant exploration of the judicial, legislative, and neighborhood battles over school desegregation that gripped the city in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and that continue to plague our "post-racial" nation.

NFL Football Cover

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NFL Football

A History of America's New National Pastime

Richard C. Crepeau

This wide-ranging history synthesizes scholarship and media sources to give the reader an inside view of the television contracts, labor issues, and other off-the-field forces that shaped the National Football League. Historian Richard Crepeau shows how Commissioner Pete Rozelle's steady leadership guided the league's explosive growth during the era of Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl's transformation into a mid-winter spectacle. Crepeau also delves into the league's masterful exploitation of media from radio to the internet, its ability to get taxpayers to subsidize team stadiums, and its success in delivering an outlet for experiencing vicarious violence to a public uneasy over the changing rules of masculinity. Probing and learned, NFL Football tells an epic American success story peopled by larger-than-life figures and driven by ambition, money, sweat, and dizzying social and technological changes.

Nikkei Baseball Cover

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Nikkei Baseball

Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues

Samuel O. Regalado

Nikkei Baseball examines baseball's evolving importance to the Japanese American community and the construction of Japanese American identity. Originally introduced in Japan in the late 1800s, baseball was played in the United States by Japanese immigrants first in Hawaii, then San Francisco and northern California, then in amateur leagues up and down the Pacific Coast. For Japanese American players, baseball was seen as a sport that encouraged healthy competition by imposing rules and standards of ethical behavior for both players and fans. The value of baseball as exercise and amusement quickly expanded into something even more important, a means for strengthening social ties within Japanese American communities and for linking their aspirations to America's pastimes and America's promise._x000B__x000B_Drawing from archival research, prior scholarship, and personal interviews, Samuel O. Regalado explores key historical factors such as Meji-era modernization policies in Japan, American anti-Asian sentiments, internment during World War II, the postwar transition, economic and educational opportunities in the 1960s, the developing concept of a distinct "Asian American" identity, and Japanese Americans' rise to the major leagues with star players including Lenn Sakata and Kurt Suzuki and even managers such as the Seattle Mariners' Don Wakamatsu._x000B_

 Cover
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NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture

Vol. 9 (2000/01) through current issue

NINE studies all historical aspects of baseball, centering on the societal and cultural implications of the game wherever in the world it is played. The journal features articles, essays, book reviews, biographies, oral history, and short fiction pieces.

No Minor Accomplishment Cover

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No Minor Accomplishment

The Revival of New Jersey Professional Baseball

Bob Golon

America's pastime has roots in New Jersey dating back to 1846 when the first baseball game using modern rules was played on Elysian Fields in Hoboken. The sport thrived throughout the state until the 1950s when fans began to turn away from local competition, preferring to watch games broadcast on television, to take a trip to see a major league team in New York, or to frequent newly air-conditioned movie theaters or bowling alleys. By the early 1990s, however, a growing disenchantment with the high ticket prices and corporate atmosphere of Major League Baseball led to the revival of a purer form of the sport in the Garden State.
    In No Minor Accomplishment, sports historian and New Jersey native Bob Golon tells the story of the state's baseball scene since the Trenton Thunder arrived in 1994. Drawing on interviews with team owners and employees, industry executives and fans, Golon goes behind the scenes to show how maintaining a minor league ball club can be a risky business venture. Stadiums cost millions to build, and a team full of talented players does not immediately guarantee success. Instead, each of the eight minor league and independent professional teams in the state must tailor themselves to the communities in which they are situated. Shrewd marketing is necessary to attract fans, but Golon also explains how, unlike Major League Baseball, the business aspect of the minor and independent leagues is not something the average spectator notices.  For the fans, baseball in New Jersey is wholesome, exciting family entertainment.

On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell Cover

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On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell

Bert Bell, a native of Philadelphia, has been called the most powerful executive figure in the history of professional football. He was responsible for helping to transform the game from a circus sideshow into what has become the most popular spectator sport in America. In On Any Given Sunday, the first biography of this important sports figure, historian Robert Lyons recounts the remarkable story of how de Benneville “Bert” Bell rejected the gentility of a high society lifestyle in favor of the tougher gridiron, and rose to become the founder of the Philadelphia Eagles and Commissioner of the National Football League.

Bell, who arguably saved the league from bankruptcy by conceiving the idea for the annual player draft, later made the historic decision to introduce “sudden death” overtime—a move that propelled professional football into the national consciousness. He coined the phrase “on any given sunday” and negotiated the league’s first national TV contract. Lyons also describes in fascinating detail Bell’s relationships with leading figures ranging from such Philadelphia icons as Walter Annenberg and John B. Kelly to national celebrities and U.S. Presidents. He also provides insight into Bell’s colorful personal life—including his hell-raising early years and his secret marriage to Frances Upton, a golden name in show business.

On Any Given Sunday is being published on the 50th anniversary of Bell’s death.

Pay for Play Cover

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Pay for Play

A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform

Ronald A. Smith

In an era when college football coaches frequently command higher salaries than university presidents, many call for reform to restore the balance between amateur athletics and the educational mission of schools. This book traces attempts at college athletics reform from 1855 through the early twenty-first century while analyzing the different roles played by students, faculty, conferences, university presidents, the NCAA, legislatures, and the Supreme Court. _x000B__x000B_Pay for Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform also tackles critically important questions about eligibility, compensation, recruiting, sponsorship, and rules enforcement. Discussing reasons for reform--to combat corruption, to level the playing field, and to make sports more accessible to minorities and women--Ronald A. Smith candidly explains why attempts at change have often failed. Of interest to historians, athletic reformers, college administrators, NCAA officials, and sports journalists, this thoughtful book considers the difficulty in balancing the principles of amateurism with the need to draw income from sporting events.

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A People's History of Baseball

Mitchell Nathanson

Baseball is much more than the national pastime. It has become an emblem of America itself. Stories abound that illustrate baseball's significance in eradicating racial barriers, bringing neighborhoods together, and building civic pride._x000B__x000B_In A People's History of Baseball, Mitchell Nathanson probes the less well-known but no less meaningful other side of baseball: episodes not involving equality, patriotism, heroism, and virtuous capitalism, but power--how it is obtained, and how it perpetuates itself. Exploring the founding of the National League, Nathanson focuses on the newer Americans who sought club ownership to promote their own social status in the increasingly closed caste of late nineteenth-century America. His perspective on the rise and public rebuke of the Players Association shows that these events reflect both the collective spirit of working and middle-class America in the mid-twentieth century as well as the countervailing forces that sought to beat back this emerging movement that threatened the status quo. Even his take on baseball's racial integration that began with Branch Rickeys "Great Experiment" reveals the debilitating effects of the harsh double standard that resulted, requiring a black player to have unimpeachable character merely to take the field in a Major League game, a standard no white player was required to meet._x000B__x000B_Told with passion and occasional outrage, A People's History of Baseball challenges the perspective of the well-known, deeply entrenched, hyper-patriotic stories of baseball and offers an incisive alternative history of America's much-loved national pastime.

Playing for Their Nation Cover

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Playing for Their Nation

Baseball and the American Military during World War II

Steven R. Bullock

Just two months after the magical baseball season of 1941, the United States entered World War II, and baseball, like other American institutions, was called upon to sacrifice and serve in the war effort. Utilizing personal accounts, military documents, and newspaper sources, Playing for Their Nation provides the first in-depth analysis of the development of military baseball during the Second World War.

Steven R. Bullock describes how virtually every significant American military installation around the world boasted formal baseball teams and leagues designed to soothe the anxieties of combatants and prepare them physically for battle. Officials also sponsored hundreds of exhibition contests involving military and civilian teams and tours by major league stars to entertain servicemen and elevate their spirits.

Fund-raising by the Major Leagues proved remarkably successful in the encouragement of war bond sales and in donations of equipment for military teams. By the end of the war, more than ninety percent of the players on prewar Major League rosters served in the armed forces, and Bullock relates the wartime experiences of the players, such as Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Also provided is the statistical analysis of the negative impact of the war on the careers of Major League players in terms of their reduced productivity and shortened careers.

Proving itself to be much more than a game, baseball offered comfort and pride to a military, and a nation, gripped by war.

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