Back in the 1940s and 1950s, almost every small town in America had a baseball team. Most players were simply local heroes with a local following, but a few teams achieved fame far beyond their region. The Alpine Cowboys—despite being based in Texas's remote, sparsely populated Big Bend country—became a star in the firmament of semi-pro baseball. Lavishly underwritten by a wealthy rancher with a passion not only for baseball but even more for helping young men get a good start in life, the Cowboys played on a "field of dreams" whose facilities rivaled those of professional ballparks. Many Cowboys went on to play in the big leagues, and several pro teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Browns, came to play exhibition games at Kokernot Field.
The story of Herbert Kokernot Jr. and his Alpine Cowboys is a legend among baseball aficionados, but until now it has never been the subject of a book. DJ Stout, son of former Cowboys player Doyle Stout, presents a hall-of-fame-worthy collection of photographs, memorabilia, and reminiscences from Alpine Cowboys players, family members, and fans to capture fifteen years (1946–1961) of baseball at its finest. Nicholas Dawidoff's introduction, originally published in Sports Illustrated, tells the fascinating tale of "Mr. Herbert" and his determination to build a baseball team and ballpark that deserved to carry his ranch's 06 brand.
One of the most heartwarming episodes in the annals of the game, The Amazing Tale of Mr. Herbert and His Fabulous Alpine Cowboys is a fitting tribute to a man, a team, and a ballpark.
These nine essays selected by Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson present for the first time in a single volume an ethnic and racial profile of American baseball. These essayists show how the gradual involvement by various ethnic and racial groups reflects the changing nature of baseball—and of American society as a whole—over the course of the twentieth century.
Although the sport could not truly be called representative of America until after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, fascination with the ethnic backgrounds of the players began more than a century ago when athletes of German and Irish descent entered the major leagues in large numbers. In the 1920s, commentators noted the influx of ballplayers of Italian and Slavic origins and wondered why there were not more Jewish players in the big leagues. The era following World War II, however, saw the most dramatic ethnographic shift with the belated entry of African American ballplayers. The pattern of ethnic succession continues as players of Hispanic and Asian origin infuse fresh excitement and renewal into the major leagues.
An in-depth and multiperspectival look at the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and its roots in the culture of baseball fandom.
In 2017 the Houston Astros won their first World Series title, a particularly uplifting victory for the city following Hurricane Harvey. But two years later, the feel-good energy was gone after The Athletic revealed that the Astros had stolen signs from opposing catchers during their championship season, perhaps even during the playoffs and World Series. Their methods were at once high-tech and crude: staff took video of opponents’ pitching signals and transmitted the footage in real time to the Astros’ dugout, where players banged on trash cans to signal to their teammates at bat which pitches were coming their way. Wry observers labeled them the Asterisks, pointing to the title that no longer seemed so earned.
Astros and Asterisks examines the scandal from historical, journalistic, legal, ethical, and cultural perspectives. Authors delve into the Astros’ winning-above-all attitude, cultivated by a former McKinsey consultant; the significance of hiring a pitcher recently suspended for domestic abuse; the career-ending effects of the Astros’ transgression on opposing players; and the ethically fraught choices necessary to participate in sign-stealing. Ultimately, it links the Astros’ choices to the sporting world’s obsession with analytics. What emerges is a sobering tale about the impact of new technology on a game whose romanticized image feels increasingly incongruous with its reality in the era of big data and video.
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