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The View from the Dugout Cover

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The View from the Dugout

The Journals of Red Rolfe

Edited by William M. Anderson

Somewhere, if they haven't been destroyed, there are hundreds of pages of typewritten notes about American League players of that era, notes which I would love to get my hands on. -Bill James, in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, on the journals of Red Rolfe "Red Rolfe's journal for his years as manager of the Detroit Tigers is the kind of precious source researchers yearn for. In combination with William M. Anderson's well-done text, The View from the Dugout will be of great interest to general readers and of immense value to students of baseball history." -Charles C. Alexander, author of Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era "Red Rolfe was one of baseball's most astute observers. This is 'inside' baseball from the inside." -Donald Honig, author of Baseball America, Baseball When the Grass Was Real, and other books in the Donald Honig Best Players of All Time series "In his lucid journals Red Rolfe has provided an inside look at how an intelligent baseball manager thinks and prepares." -Ray Robinson, Yankee historian and author of Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time Baseball players as a rule aren't known for documenting their experiences on the diamond. Red Rolfe, however, during his time as manager of the Detroit Tigers from 1949 to 1952, recorded daily accounts of each game, including candid observations about his team's performance. He used these observations to coach his players and to gain an advantage by recording strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of opposing players and managers. Rolfe's journals carry added value considering his own career as an All-Star Yankee third baseman on numerous world champion teams, where he was a teammate of Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Today, in the era of televised broadcasts, networks often wire a manager so that viewers can listen to his spontaneous comments throughout the game. Red Rolfe's journals offer an opportunity to find out what a manager is thinking when no one is around to hear. William M. Anderson is Director of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries for the State of Michigan. His books include The Detroit Tigers: A Pictorial Celebration of the Greatest Players and Moments in Tigers' History.

When Baseball Went White Cover

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When Baseball Went White

Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Dreams of a National Pastime

Ryan A. Swanson

The story of Jackie Robinson valiantly breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947 is one that most Americans know. But less recognized is the fact that some seventy years earlier, following the Civil War, baseball was tenuously biracial and had the potential for a truly open game. How, then, did the game become so firmly segregated that it required a trailblazer like Robinson? The answer, Ryan A. Swanson suggests, has everything to do with the politics of “reconciliation” and a wish to avoid the issues of race that an integrated game necessarily raised.
 
The history of baseball during Reconstruction, as Swanson tells it, is a story of lost opportunities. Thomas Fitzgerald and Octavius Catto (a Philadelphia baseball tandem), for example, were poised to emerge as pioneers of integration in the 1860s. Instead, the desire to create a “national game”—professional and appealing to white Northerners and Southerners alike—trumped any movement toward civil rights. Focusing on Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Richmond—three cities with large African American populations and thriving baseball clubs—Swanson uncovers the origins of baseball’s segregation and the mechanics of its implementation. An important piece of sports history, his work also offers a better understanding of Reconstruction, race, and segregation in America.    
 


 

Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats Cover

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Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats

How Baseball Outlasted the Great Depression

David George Surdam

Organized baseball has survived its share of difficult times, and never was the state of the game more imperiled than during the Great Depression. Or was it? Remarkably, during the economic upheavals of the Depression none of the sixteen Major League Baseball teams folded or moved. In this economist’s look at the sport as a business between 1929 and 1941, David George Surdam argues that although it was a very tough decade for baseball, the downturn didn’t happen immediately. The 1930 season, after the stock market crash, had record attendance. But by 1931 attendance began to fall rapidly, plummeting 40 percent by 1933. To adjust, teams reduced expenses by cutting coaches and hiring player-managers. While even the best players, such as Babe Ruth, were forced to take pay cuts, most players continued to earn the same pay in terms of purchasing power. Baseball remained a great way to make a living. Revenue sharing helped the teams in small markets but not necessarily at the expense of big-city teams. Off the field, owners devised innovative solutions to keep the game afloat, including the development of the Minor League farm system, night baseball, and the first radio broadcasts to diversify teams’ income sources. Using research from primary documents, Surdam analyzes how the economic structure and operations side of Major League Baseball during the Depression took a beating but managed to endure, albeit changed by the societal forces of its time.

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