- Purchase/rental options available:
NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 12.2 (2004) 161-163
[Access article in PDF]
Chris Holaday, ed. Baseball in the Carolinas: 25 Essays on the States' Hardball Heritage. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2002. 192 pp. Paper, $21.00.
There have been some great studies on baseball and its cultural effects in Latin America (Viva Baseball!: Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger by Samuel O. Regalado) and Asia (Taking in a Game: A History of Baseball in Asia by Joseph A. Reaves). There are also some great works studying baseball's history and effects in areas within the United States. In fact, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABr) creates a publication on the regional history and cultural effects of baseball for each year's national conference. For example, the 2002 SABR conference (held in Boston) published a history of baseball in New England.
Baseball in the Carolinas should be added to the list of great books on the effects and history of baseball at the regional level. However, one of the glaring weaknesses of the book is the lack of organization of the chapters in the book in both content and time. Consequently, for the purpose of this review, the chapters are organized into six categories:
- State Teams of the Carolinas
- Baseball Games
- Baseball Individuals
- Baseball Team/Town
- Baseball Miscellaneous.
The first category, State Teams of the Carolinas, consists of two chapters, one for each of the Carolina states. Each chapter examines each state's team position by position. The "All North Carolina" team consists of twenty-five players dominated by three outstanding pitchers: Hoyt Wilhelm, Catfish Hunter, and Gaylord Perry. The offensive stars include first basemen Mark [End Page 161] Grace and Buck Leonard. The chapter on the "All South Carolina" team is set up similarly to its northern partner; however, its players seem to be more offensive stars while its starting pitching is weaker. The offensive stars include Willie Randolph, Jim Rice, Larry Doby, and of course Joe Jackson.
The second category, Ballparks, includes only one chapter, on the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The chapter begins with a history of the park beginning in 1939 and follows the American history with the local baseball history in Durham. It also vividly describes the ballpark and discusses the different personalities who were involved with the ballpark. Finally, the chapter concludes with the effects of the movieBull Durham on the team and ballpark.
The chapters in the third category, Baseball Games, are some of the most interesting. They deal with some of the greatest seasons and games ever played and, maybe more importantly, some that were never played. For example, the Anderson County League Baseball Championship was never completed due to labor strife that ended in bloodshed. Another chapter discusses the ride of ballplayers and fans going from the first half of a doubleheader to another. Finally, a chapter addresses the Cannon Street All Stars, the first black Little League in South Carolina, who were guests of the Little League World Series when teams from South Carolina and Georgia refused to play them. However, the race issue was not confined to the South, as even in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, they ran into problems.
The fourth grouping discusses baseball individuals—some well-known, some not, but both from an interesting perspective. Several chapters illustrate individuals who wished for Major League glory in Little League or the minors but later fell short. However, some of those individuals were able to stay in baseball—including Bobby Hipps, who would become president of the Tri-State League—while others entered the "real world." There is also a chapter on Joe Jackson and his post-1919 baseball career.
More chapters fell into the fifth grouping, Baseball Teams/Towns, than into any other category. This set of chapters deals with many topics, from the history of baseball in a particular town to the history of baseball opportunities for minorities, particularly African Americans and women. One of the most interesting chapters describes the history of the Snow Hill Billies...