This entertaining history blends anecdote, incident, and analysis as it chronicles the story of our national pastime. Alexander covers the advent of the first professional baseball leagues, the game’s surge in the early 20th century, the Golden 20s and the Gray 30s, the breaking of the color line in the late 40s, and the game’s expansion to its current status as a premier team sport. He describes changing playing styles and outstanding teams and personalities but also demonstrates the many connections between baseball - as game, sport, and business - and the evolution of tastes, values, and institutions in the United States.
About the author: Charles C. Alexander, formerly a distinguished professor of history at Ohio University, is the author of a number of books, including the celebrated biographies Ty Cobb and John McGraw.
©1991 Charles C. Alexander (P)1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This coherent narrative history captures the glory, the excitement, and the occasional scandal that characterize the country’s favorite sport. Entertaining and informative without flogging readers with a plethora of numbing statistics, Alexander’s style should appeal to fans and students of baseball lore. A book that should readily lend itself as a tool in teaching modern American social and cultural history.” (School Library Journal)
“A commendable blend of people and events.” (Library Journal)
Interesting History Lesson
Slow and Tedious, but the worst was his continual mispronunciation of players names. It is especially annoying when he does it with a really famous guy. BOO
While the book is somewhat outdated and doesn't reflect some of the events of the last 20 years, including 4 new franchises, the PED scandals, one franchise move, and the strike of '94, it is a very good primer to explain how baseball and professional baseball in particular got where it has.
It is a very good overview of the first 150 years of our national pastime. I would love to see an update. The one thing that I'd particularly want to see is the emergence of SABR and the effects that "Advanced Baseball Metrics" (aka SABRmetrics) has had on the game and the evaluation of some of its personalities.
On the other hand, a look at Kenesaw Mountain Landis gives a good picture of the horrors that a bad commissioner can perpetrate; it is nice to know why the Oakland Athletics use an elephant as a mascot; there is a story behind why the Cincinnati Reds were called the "Redlegs" for a period; and how some of the, seemingly, oddball rules came to be.
I do have to mark the narrator down, considerably. He mispronounced so many names that it was driving me crazy. Also, there was some baseball terminology that he didn't make flow. While he does have a very listenable voice, and I have enjoyed other books that he has read, his lack of knowledge about this most American of sports should have precluded him from doing the narration, or he should at least have gotten a new coach.
Tries to hit every notable highlight of 160 years of baseball by simply mentioning every highlight without a single example of insight. ...and then the 27 Yankees were good and then Lou Gehrig died and then Maris hit 61 and then pitchers dominated for a while and then Carleton Fisk hit an exciting home run... No story behind the story.
If you are a stat person and want a reasonably succinct chronological history of baseball facts and figures this is an excellent book. If you are interested in the big social and cultural themes of baseball then there are far better books.
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