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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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The Postwar Yankees

Baseball's Golden Age Revisited

David George Surdam

The Yankees and New York baseball entered a golden age between 1949 and 1964, a period during which the city was represented in all but one World Series. While the Yankees dominated, however, the years were not so golden for the rest of baseball.

In The Postwar Yankees: Baseball’s Golden Age Revisited, David G. Surdam deconstructs this idyllic period to show that while the Yankees piled on pennants and World Series titles through the 1950s, Major League Baseball attendance consistently declined and gate-revenue disparity widened through the mid-1950s. Contrary to popular belief, the era was already experiencing many problems that fans of today’s game bemoan, including a competitive imbalance and callous owners who ran the league like a cartel. Fans also found aging, decrepit stadiums ill-equipped for the burgeoning automobile culture, while television and new forms of leisure competed for their attention.

Through an economist’s lens, Surdam brings together historical documents and off-the-field numbers to reconstruct the period and analyze the roots of the age’s enduring mythology, examining why the Yankees and other New York teams were consistently among baseball’s elite and how economic and social forces set in motion during this golden age shaped the sport into its modern incarnation.

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The Prince of Jockeys

The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy

Pellom McDaniels III

Isaac Burns Murphy (1861--1896) was one of the most dynamic jockeys of his era. Still considered one of the finest riders of all time, Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44 percent win record remains unmatched. Despite his success, Murphy was pushed out of Thoroughbred racing when African American jockeys were forced off the track, and he died in obscurity.

In The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy, author Pellom McDaniels III offers the first definitive biography of this celebrated athlete, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation. Despite the obstacles he faced, Murphy became an important figure -- not just in sports, but in the social, political, and cultural consciousness of African Americans. Drawing from legal documents, census data, and newspapers, this comprehensive profile explores how Murphy epitomized the rise of the black middle class and contributed to the construction of popular notions about African American identity, community, and citizenship during his lifetime.

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Qualifying Times

Points of Change in U.S. Women's Sport

Jaime Schultz

This perceptive, lively study explores U.S. women's sport through historical "points of change": particular products or trends that dramatically influenced both women's participation in sport and cultural responses to women athletes.Beginning with the seemingly innocent ponytail, the subject of the Introduction, scholar Jaime Schultz challenges the reader to look at the historical and sociological significance of now-common items such as sports bras and tampons and ideas such as sex testing and competitive cheerleading. Tennis wear, tampons, and sports bras all facilitated women's participation in physical culture, while physical educators, the aesthetic fitness movement, and Title IX encouraged women to challenge (or confront) policy, financial, and cultural obstacles.While some of these points of change increased women's physical freedom and sporting participation, they also posed challenges. Tampons encouraged menstrual shame, sex testing (a tool never used with male athletes) perpetuated narrowly-defined cultural norms of femininity, and the late-twentieth-century aesthetic fitness movement fed into an unrealistic beauty ideal.Ultimately, Schultz finds that U.S. women's sport has progressed significantly but ambivalently. Although participation in sports is no longer uncommon for girls and women, Schultz argues that these "points of change" have contributed to a complex matrix of gender differentiation that marks the female athletic body as different than--as less than--the male body, despite the advantages it may confer.

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"If You Were Only White"

The Life of Leroy "Satchel" Paige

Donald Spivey

       
               “If You Were Only White” explores the legacy of one of the most exceptional athletes ever—an entertainer extraordinaire, a daring showman and crowd-pleaser, a wizard with a baseball whose artistry and antics on the mound brought fans out in the thousands to ballparks across the country. Leroy “Satchel” Paige was arguably one of the world’s greatest pitchers and a premier star of Negro Leagues Baseball. But in this biography Donald Spivey reveals Paige to have been much more than just a blazing fastball pitcher.

 

            Spivey follows Paige from his birth in Alabama in 1906 to his death in Kansas City in 1982, detailing the challenges Paige faced battling the color line in America and recounting his tests and triumphs in baseball. He also opens up Paige’s private life during and after his playing days, introducing readers to the man who extended his social, cultural, and political reach beyond the limitations associated with his humble background and upbringing. This other Paige was a gifted public speaker, a talented musician and singer, an excellent cook, and a passionate outdoorsman, among other things.  

 

            Paige’s life intertwined with many of the most important issues of the times in U.S. and AfricanAmerican history, including the continuation of the New Negro Movement and the struggle for civil rights. Spivey incorporates interviews with former teammates conducted over twelve years, as well as exclusive interviews with Paige’s son Robert, daughter Pamela, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and John “Buck” O’Neil to tell the story of a pioneer who helped transform America through the nation’s favorite pastime.  

 

            Maintaining an image somewhere between Joe Louis’s public humility and the flamboyant aggression of Jack Johnson, Paige pushed the boundaries of segregation and bridged the racial divide with stellar pitching packaged with slapstick humor. He entertained as he played to win and saw no contradiction in doing so. Game after game, his performance refuted the lie that black baseball was inferior to white baseball. His was a contribution to civil rights of a different kind—his speeches and demonstrations expressed through his performance on the mound.

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Rebound!

The Incredible Story of UConn Basketball's Comeback from Defeat to Dominance

David Borges

In September 2012, legendary University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun—who had won three national championships, the last in 2011—abruptly retired. His handpicked replacement was Kevin Ollie, a former UConn player and longtime NBA journeyman who had returned two years earlier to be Calhoun’s assistant. Ollie was widely praised as a “basketball savant” and respected by virtually everyone who knew him. But he had no head coaching experience—at any level—before taking the UConn job. He was also inheriting a mess. Due to past academic problems, UConn was barred from postseason play in 2013, and largely because of this, several top players left the program, either for the NBA draft or for other schools. On top of that were the uncertainties of a greatly changed conference, as well as difficulties on the recruiting trail. Despite it all, a dedicated core of players stayed and won twenty hard-fought games, even with no tournament chances to hope for.

The following season, expectations for the team were modest, and the odds of a championship were slim to none. But with the tournament ban lifted, a talented group of players, led by Shabazz Napier, emerged and went on to upset Michigan State to advance to the Final Four, causing millions of college hoops fans across the country to rip up their carefully constructed brackets. When they beat preseason no. 1 Kentucky, with its “Fab 5” NBA-bound starters and celebrity coach John Calipari, to win the 2014 title, theirs became one of the great comeback stories in all of sports, a rags-to-riches triumph for a storied program and its new head coach.

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Reconstructing Fame

Sport, Race, and Evolving Reputations

With contributions by Prosper Godonoo, Urla Hill, C. Richard King, David J. Leonard, Jack Lule, Murry Nelson, David C. Ogden, Robert W. Reising, and Joel Nathan Rosen Reconstructing Fame: Sport, Race, and Evolving Reputations includes essays on Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Curt Flood, Paul Robeson, Jim Thorpe, Bill Russell, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. The essayists in this volume write about twentieth-century athletes whose careers were affected by racism and whose post-career reputations have improved as society's understanding of race changed. Contributors attempt to clarify the stories of these sports stars and their places as twentieth-century icons by analyzing the various myths that surround them. When media, fans, sports leagues, and the athletes themselves commemorate sports legends, shifts in popular perceptions often serve to obscure an athlete's role in history. Such revisions can lack coherence and trivialize the efforts of some legendary competitors and those associated with them. Adding racial tensions to this process further complicates the task of preserving the valuable achievements of key players.

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Remembering Bulldog Turner

Unsung Monster of the Midway

Michael Barr; foreword by Lew Freedman

Clyde “Bulldog” Turner rose from the West Texas plains to become an early lynchpin of the Chicago Bears and the NFL and one of the greatest linemen of the pre-television era. Fame, however, did not stick to Bulldog Turner because the positions he played rarely made headlines. Bulldog played center and linebacker, while the recognition, glory, and money went to those who scored touchdowns. Like Pudge Heffelfinger, Fats Henry, Ox Emerson, George Trafton, Bruiser Kinard, Adolph Shultz, or Mel Hein, Bulldog Turner is a ghostly character from football’s leather helmet days.
          Still, no man played his positions better than Bulldog Turner. He was the ideal combination of size and speed, and every coach’s dream: a lineman who could block like a bulldozer, run like a halfback, and catch like a receiver.
          Despite his talents, Bulldog never made much money playing football, and what he did earn slipped through his fingers like sand. When he retired, his iconic nickname faded from memory. He died in relative obscurity on what remained of his Texas ranch. Remembering Bulldog Turner brings an NFL great into the limelight he never enjoyed as a football player.

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(Re)Presenting Wilma Rudolph

by Rita Liberti and Maureen M. Smith

Wilma Rudolph was born black in Jim Crow Tennessee. The twentieth of 22 children, she spent most of her childhood in bed suffering from whooping cough, scarlet fever, and pneumonia. She lost the use of her left leg due to polio and wore leg braces. With dedication and hard work, she became a gifted runner, earning a track and field scholarship to Tennessee State. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Her underdog story made her into a media darling, and she was the subject of countless articles, a television movie, children’s books, biographies, and she even featured on a U.S. postage stamp. In this work, Smith and Liberti consider not only Rudolph’s achievements, but also the ways in which those achievements are interpreted and presented as historical fact. Theories of gender, race, class, and disability collide in the story of Wilma Rudolph, and Smith and Liberti examine this collision in an effort to more fully understand how history is shaped by the cultural concerns of the present. In doing so, the authors engage with the metanarratives which define the American experience and encourage more complex and nuanced interrogations of contemporary heroic legacy.

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The Righteous Remnant

The House of David

With a new introduction by the author Many Americans associate the House of David with its bearded barnstorming baseball teams of the 1920s and ’30s. Others may recall the sex scandal associated with the group, a scandal that gave newspapers during the first years after World War I some added spice. Still, others may know it as a religious communal society founded in 1903, which has a few adherents today.

What is this strange group and how can these diverse images be reconciled? In the first in-depth study of the House of David, originally published in 1981, Robert S. Fogarty places the sect in the Anglo-Israelite millennial tradition that goes back to seventeenthcentury England, which produced prophets like the mystic Joanna Southcott and from which arose sects in England, Australia, and the United States. Their reading of the Book of Revelation promised the saving of a “righteous remnant” of humanity who would gather in one place to await the millennium. Evangelist Benjamin Purnell became the seventh prophet in the line of this tradition and, with his bigamous wife, Mary, established a community for its followers in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The House of David was a celibate communal society controlled by the Purnells, and it attracted members who exchanged their worldly goods for the security of salvation. At its height, the community had more than 700 members and prospered by running farms, a canning company, and an amusement park and hosting popular touring bands and the traveling baseball teams.

But there were defectors, and from them emerged rumors of oppressive conditions, sexual misconduct on the part of the prophet himself, hastily arranged group marriages, and financial wrongdoing that led to a series of civil suits. The allegations drove Purnell into hiding, and the State of Michigan launched an elaborate trial against the colony.

The Righteous Remnant is more than the story of the rise and fall of a religious community. By examining its religious roots, the staunch testimony of its members in the face of demonstrated charges, and the social relations within the colony itself, we can begin to understand the attraction that such “social contracts” can exert. The House of David is now a remnant itself, but other religious groups continue to grow and bind members to them in the same ways.

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