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Publisher's Summary

Every time you watch baseball, you’re watching more than just a game - you’re participating in the latest chapter of a compelling story. What began as the earliest bat-and-ball games became the favorite American pastime of the first 19th-century baseball games. Knowing how baseball came to be what it is today will add levels of enjoyment, respect, and appreciation to any game you watch.  

In collaboration with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, The Great Courses brings you 24 lectures that paint a portrait of baseball’s remarkable past. Taking you from the decades before the Civil War to the pivotal year of 1920, Play Ball! The Rise of Baseball as America’s Pastime offers a well-rounded, historically rich look at this most distinctive slice of Americana.   

Written by noted baseball historian Peter Morris and presented by Bruce Markusen of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, these lectures guide you through decades of experimentation, change, controversy, and triumph. You’ll encounter early baseball giants, including Albert G. Spalding, Harry Wright, and Harry M. Stevens. You’ll learn the origins of everything from catcher’s masks to batting averages. You’ll consider the true stories of how women, African Americans, and others overcame adversity on and off the diamond. And all of this with the help of remarkable artifacts, images, and footage from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s vast holdings.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2019 The Great Courses

Featured Article: The Best Baseball Audiobooks of All Time


Ask any baseball fan and they'll tell you: some of their favorite sounds can only be heard at the ballpark—the smooth, satisfying pop of a catcher’s glove as a pitch hits its mark; the crack of a bat as it tears into a fastball, explosive and hopeful, drawing the crowd to their feet. Our list, a roundup of outstanding baseball audiobooks, offers a glimmer of that same ballpark magic with just a few of the greatest stories from our national pastime.

What listeners say about Play Ball! The Rise of Baseball as America’s Pastime

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Beyond just players, games, and stats

If you think sports history exists in a vacuum, unaffected by the outside world, this might not be your lecture series. Bruce goes beyond the game of baseball itself and introduces elements of industrial, social and political history to full illustrate the early days of baseball. Cannot recommend highly enough to anyone with a semi deep interest in the game or post civil war American culture.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I expected

I love baseball and find that it is still the thing, after 50 years, that brings my brothers and I together since my dad passed. Raised in Chicago area with the battle between the Cubs and Sox ... I was hoping this book would be about the PLAYERS in basedball and not the PEOPLE of baseball. I was hoping to relive some of my memories of great games, great series', great pitchers and great hitters ... but no, nothing of the kind.

It is an excellent history of baseball, that is it. I found it hard to get into because I wanted something different.

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

This was a great, great look at the evolution of baseball against the backdrop of changing American culture. A fascinating look at both history and the sport. Bruce Markusen is a natural storyteller.

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Great history of days of baseball (1850s-1920s)

Detailed history of early origin of baseball, how it was played, and how it evolved over the first 70+ years of its existence. Sometimes some many facts and unrecognizable names that impossible to remember it all. A good book that deserves additional read in the future

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Absolutely Fantastic!!!! I really enjoyed it

This was an incredible experience. Every lecture was solid from it's performance, historical facts and length. I highly recommend enjoying this incredible package.

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Enjoyable history of Baseball

This is an enjoyable history of the game mostly focusing on the early history of Baseball up to the start of the Ruth era.