Baseball’s Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus is John Theodore’s true account of the slick-fielding first baseman who played for the Cubs and Phillies in the 1940s and became an immortalized figure in baseball lore as the inspiration for Roy Hobbs in Bernard Malamud’s The Natural.
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Edward Stephen Waitkus (1919–1972) grew up in Boston and served in the Pacific during World War II. His army service in some of the war’s bloodiest combat earned him four Bronze Stars. Following the war, Waitkus became one of the most popular players of his era. As a rookie he led the Cubs in hitting in 1946 and quickly established himself as one of the best first basemen in the National League. To the disappointment of fans, the Cubs traded Waitkus to the Phillies in December of 1948. When he returned to Chicago in a Philadelphia uniform in June of the following year, he was hitting .306 and seemed destined for the All Star team.
On the night of June 14 at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, Waitkus’s bright career took an infamously tragic turn. He received a cryptic note summoning him to meet a young fan, Ruth Steinhagen. When Waitkus entered her hotel room, she proclaimed, “I have a surprise for you,” and then she just as quickly shot him in the chest. Steinhagen, then only nineteen, was one of the many young women—called “Baseball Annies”–who were fanatic about the game and its players, though her obsession proved more dangerous than most. A criminal court indicted Steinhagen and confined her to a state mental hospital for nearly three years.
Waitkus survived the shooting, made an inspirational return to baseball in 1950, and led the Phillies to the World Series. While Waitkus triumphed over his assault, he could not conquer his private demons. Depression stemming from the attack led to a severe problem with alcohol, a failed marriage, and a nervous breakdown. Waitkus found some happiness in his final summers working with youngsters at the Ted Williams baseball camp. Cancer claimed him in 1972, just days after his fifty-third birthday.
Through interviews with Waitkus’s family, fellow servicemen, former ballplayers, and childhood friends, and aided by fifteen photographs, Theodore chronicles Waitkus’s remarkable comeback as well as the difficult years following his eleven-year major league career.
In Beep, David Wanczyk illuminates the sport of blind baseball to show us a remarkable version of America’s pastime. With balls tricked out to squeal three times per second, and with bases that buzz, this game of baseball for the blind is both innovative and intense. And when the best beep baseball team in America, the Austin Blackhawks, takes on its international rival, Taiwan Homerun, no one’s thinking about disability. What we find are athletes playing their hearts out for a championship.
Wanczyk follows teams around the world and even joins them on the field to produce a riveting inside narrative about the game and its players. Can Ethan Johnston, kidnapped and intentionally blinded as a child in Ethiopia, find a new home in beep baseball, and a spot on the all-star team? Will Taiwan’s rookie MVP Ching-kai Chen—whose superhuman feats on the field have left some veterans suspicious—keep up his incredible play? And can Austin’s Lupe Perez harness his competitive fire and lead his team to a long-awaited victory in the beep baseball world series?
“The best all-around catcher in black baseball history”—Cumberland Posey, Owner of the Homestead Grays
National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher James Raleigh “Biz” Mackey’s professional career spanned nearly three decades in the Negro Leagues and elsewhere. He distinguished himself as a defensive catcher who also had an impressive batting average and later worked as a manager of the Newark Eagles and the Baltimore Elite Giants.
Using archival materials and interviews with former Negro League players, baseball historian Rich Westcott chronicles the catcher’s life and remarkable career in Biz Mackey, a Giant behind the Plate as well as providing an in-depth look at Philadelphia Negro League history. Westcott traces Mackey’s childhood in Texas as the son of sharecroppers to his success on the baseball diamond where he displayed extraordinary defensive skills and an exceptional ability to hit and to handle pitchers. Mackey spent one third of his career playing in Philadelphia, winning championships with the Hilldale Daisies and the Philadelphia Stars. Mackey also mentored famed catcher Roy Campanella and had an unlikely role in the story of baseball’s development in Japan.
A celebrated ballplayer before African Americans were permitted to join Major League Baseball, Biz Mackey ranks as one of the top catchers ever to play the game. With Biz Mackey, he finally gets the biography he deserves.
Rather than as a Falstaffian figure of limited intellect, Edmund Wehrle reveals Babe Ruth as an ambitious, independent operator, one not afraid to challenge baseball’s draconian labor system. To the baseball establishment, Ruth’s immense popularity represented opportunity, but his rebelliousness and potential to overturn the status quo presented a threat. After a decades-long campaign waged by baseball to contain and discredit him, the Babe, frustrated and struggling with injuries and illness, grew more acquiescent, but the image of Ruth that baseball perpetuated still informs how many people remember Babe Ruth to this day. This new perspective, approaching Ruth more seriously and placing his life in fuller context, is long overdue.
Curt Flood, former star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, is a hero to many for selflessly sacrificing his career to challenge the legality of baseball’s reserve system. Although he lost his case before the Supreme Court, he has become for many a martyr in the eventually successful battle for free agency. Sportswriters and fans alike have helped to paint a picture of Flood as a larger-than-life figure, a portrait that, unhappily, cannot stand closer inspection. This book reveals the real Curt Flood—more man than myth.
Flood stirred up a hornet’s nest by refusing to be traded from the Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1969 season, arguing that Major League Baseball’s reserve system reduced him to the status of bondage. Flood decided to resist a system in which his contract could be traded without his consent and in which he was not at liberty to negotiate his services in an open market. Stuart Weiss examines the man behind the decision, exploring the span of Flood’s life and shedding light on his relationships with those who helped shape his determination to sue baseball and providing a new perspective on the lawsuit that found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although a superb player, Flood was known to be temperamental and sensitive; in suing Major League Baseball he transformed his grievances against the Cardinals front office into an attack on how the business of big-league ball was conducted. Weiss shows that Flood was far from the stereotypical “dumb jock” but was rather a proud, multifaceted black man in a business run by white moguls. By illuminating Flood’s private side, rarely seen by the public, he reveals how Flood misled a gullible press on a regular basis and how his 1971 memoir, The Way It Is, didn’t tell it the way it really was.
Drawing on previously untapped sources, Weiss examines more fully and deeply than other writers the complexities of Flood’s decision to pursue his lawsuit—and demonstrates that the picture of Flood as a martyr for free agency is a myth. He suggests why, of all the players traded or sold through the years, it was Flood who brought this challenge. Weiss also explains how Flood’s battle against the reserve system cannot be understood in isolation from the personal experiences that precipitated it, such as his youth in a dysfunctional home, his troubled first marriage, his financial problems, and his unwavering commitment to the Cardinals.
The Curt Flood Story is a realistic account of an eloquent man who presented a warm, even vulnerable, face to the public as well as to friends, while hiding his inner furies. It shows that Flood was neither a hero nor a martyr but a victim of unique circumstances and his own life.
Cy Young was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers of all time. He recorded three no-hitters—including a perfect game—and accumulated more than 2,800 strikeouts on his way to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Scott H. Longert uses Young’s life story to introduce middle-grade readers to the game, explaining balls, strikes, and outs in an easy-to-understand way. Longert narrates each season and each milestone game with an enthusiastic play-by-play that is sure to draw readers into the excitement on the field and in the crowd, fostering a better understanding of and a passion for baseball.
Baseball fans today know Cy Young’s name chiefly through the award given in his honor each year to the best pitcher in the National and the American Leagues. Denton True “Cyclone” Young won more than five hundred games over a career that spanned four decades, a record that no other major league pitcher has come close to matching. In addition to being the winningest pitcher in baseball history, he was also a kind, self-effacing, and generous man. Born into a farm family in rural Ohio, he never lost touch with the small-town values he grew up with.
Danny Litwhiler is one of the lucky players in baseball to "live the dream" of playing in not one, but two World Series during his eleven and a half year career in the majors. In 1942, he set a record for 151 consecutive errorless games as an outfielder—rather ironic since he led the league in errors (15) the year before! Litwhiler's engaging memoir chronicles playing, teaching, and coaching baseball during eight decades, starting with his childhood in Ringtown, PA to playing for his favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies. After his career in the majors, Litwhiler coached college baseball, and over 100 of his students, including Steve Garvey, Dick Howser, and Kirk Gibson, later signed professional contracts. Litwhiler spent his life loving what he does, and passing his knowledge and enthusiasm for baseball on to others. Danny Litwhiler: Living the Baseball Dream conveys Litwhiler's passion for the game as he fondly recalls playing with legends like Jackie Robinson and Enos Slaughter. But Danny Litwhiler was more than just a player and coach. He invented many devices used in the game today, such as the Jugs radar gun, which measures the velocity of pitches. And he was a goodwill ambassador for baseball—promoting it internationally, from Central and South America to Europe and Japan. He has lived a baseball life.
Fred “Dixie” Walker was a gifted ballplayer from a family of gifted athletes. (His father, uncle, and brother all played major league baseball.) Dixie Walker played in the majors for 18 seasons and in 1,905 games, assembling a career batting average of .306 while playing for the Yankees, White Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, and Pirates. Walker won the 1944 National League batting title, was three times an All-Star, and was runner-up for Most Valuable Player in the National League in 1946. He was particularly beloved by Brooklyn Dodgers fans, to whom he was the “People’s Choice.”
But few remember any of those achievements today. Dixie Walker—born in Georgia, and a resident of Birmingham, Alabama, for most of his life—is now most often remembered as one of the southerners on the Dodgers team who resented and resisted Jackie Robinson when he joined the ball club in 1947, as the fi rst African American major leaguer in the modern game. Having grown up in conditions of strict racial segregation, Walker later admitted to being under pressure from Alabama business associates when, in protest, he demanded to be traded away from the Dodgers.
Written by a professional sportswriter knowledgeable of the era and of personalities surrounding that event, and Dixie Walker’s daughter, this collaborative work provides a fuller account of Walker and fleshes out our understanding of him as a player and as a man. Walker ultimately came to respect Robinson, referred to him as “a gentleman,” and gave him pointers, calling him “as outstanding an athlete as I ever saw.”
Pedro Martínez. Sammy Sosa. Manny Ramírez. By 2000, Dominican baseball players were in every Major League clubhouse, and regularly winning every baseball award. In 2002, Omar Minaya became the first Dominican general manager of a Major League team. But how did this codependent relationship between MLB and Dominican talent arise and thrive?
In his incisive and engaging book, Dominican Baseball, Alan Klein examines the history of MLB's presence and influence in the Dominican Republic, the development of the booming industry and academies, and the dependence on Dominican player developers, known as buscones. He also addresses issues of identity fraud and the use of performance-enhancing drugs as hopefuls seek to play professionally.
Dominican Baseball charts the trajectory of the economic flows of this transnational exchange, and the pride Dominicans feel in their growing influence in the sport. Klein also uncovers the prejudice that prompts MLB to diminish Dominican claims on legitimacy. This sharp, smartly argued book deftly chronicles the uneasy and often contested relations of the contemporary Dominican game and industry.
Of all the great ballplayers to wear Yankee pinstripes, Elston Howard was among the proudest. Remarkable temperament and courage made him the Jackie Robinson of baseball's most storied franchise. No Yankee carried himself with more dignity. No Yankee had greater respect for his teammates or love for his wife and family. And no one loved being a Yankee more than Elston Howard.
In Elston and Me, Howard's widow, Arlene, and coauthor Ralph Wimbish recall the life of the first black to play baseball for the New York Yankees. Howard, who played fourteen major-league seasons, was signed by the Yankees in 1950, but the reluctance of the Yankee organization to break the color barrier held Howard back from the major leagues until 1955 when he was twenty-six years old.
By 1961, the year he batted .348 for the Yankees, Elston had become the everyday catcher. Voted the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1963, Howard was a three-time Gold Glove winner, and his fielding average of the same year remains one of the highest among catchers in major-league history.
In 1967, with the Yankee dynasty in decay, Elston was traded to the Boston Red Sox, although Yankee management had promised him that he would finish his career in pinstripes. After contemplating retirement, he moved to Boston late that season and helped the Red Sox win the "Impossible Dream" pennant. After one more season with the Red Sox, he returned to the Yankees as the first black coach in the American League. Howard died at the age of fifty-one without fulfilling his dream of becoming baseball's first black manager.
Beginning with Howard's early years as a St. Louis teenager, the book relates his encounters with racism and his love of baseball. He began his professional career for the legendary Negro League team the Kansas City Monarchs. His three decades with the New York Yankees include numerous anecdotes about fellow Yankee legends such as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra. With countless personal moments and never-before- published photographs and clippings from family albums, Elston and Me is the touching story of one of baseball's great players.
With its iconic stars and gleaming ballparks, baseball has been one of the most captivating forms of modern popular culture. In Expanding the Strike Zone, Daniel A. Gilbert examines the history and meaning of the sport's tumultuous changes since the mid-twentieth century, amid Major League Baseball's growing global influence. From the rise of ballplayer unionism to the emergence of new forms of scouting, broadcasting, and stadium development, Gilbert shows that the baseball world has been home to struggles over work and territory that resonate far beyond the playing field.
Readers encounter both legendary and unheralded figures in this sweeping history, which situates Major League Baseball as part of a larger culture industry. The book examines a labor history defined at once by the growing power of big league stars—from Juan Marichal and Curt Flood to Fernando Valenzuela and Ichiro Suzuki—and the collective struggles of players working to make a living throughout the baseball world. It also explores the territorial politics that have defined baseball's development as a form of transnational popular culture, from the impact of Dominican baseball academies to the organized campaign against stadium development by members of Seattle's Asian American community.
Based on a rich body of research along with new readings of popular journalism, fiction, and film, Expanding the Strike Zone highlights the ways in which baseball's players, owners, writers, and fans have shaped and reshaped the sport as a central element of popular culture from the postwar boom to the Great Recession.
The authoritative compendium of facts, statistics, photographs, and analysis that defines baseball in its formative first decades
This comprehensive reference work covers the early years of major league baseball from the first game—May 4, 1871, a 2-0 victory for the Fort Wayne Kekiongas over the visiting Cleveland Forest City team—through the 1900 season. Baseball historian David Nemec presents complete team rosters and detailed player, manager, and umpire information, with a wealth of statistics to warm a fan’s heart.
Sidebars cover a variety of topics, from oddities—the team that had the best record but finished second—to analyses of why Cleveland didn’t win any pennants in the 1890s. Additional benefits include dozens of rare illustrations and narrative accounts of each year’s pennant race. Nemec also carefully charts the rule changes from year to year as the game developed by fits and starts to formulate the modern rules. The result is an essential work of reference and at the same time a treasury of baseball history.
This new edition adds much material unearthed since the first edition, fills gaps, and corrects errors, while presenting a number of new stories and fascinating details. David Nemec began the lifetime labor that helped produced this work in 1954 and admits it may never end, as there always will be some obscure player whose birth date has not yet been found. Until perfection is achieved, this work offers state-of-the-art accuracy and detail beyond that supplied by even modern baseball encyclopedias. As Casey Stengel, who was born during this era, was wont to say, “you could look it up.” Now you can.
For more than a century, the University of Wisconsin fielded baseball teams. This comprehensive history combines colorful stories from the archives, interviews with former players and coaches, a wealth of historic photographs, and the statistics beloved by fans of the game. The earliest intercollegiate varsity sport at Wisconsin, the baseball team was founded in 1870, less than a decade after the start of the Civil War. It dominated its first league, made an unprecedented trip to Japan in 1909, survived Wisconsin's chilly spring weather, two world wars, and perennial budget crises, producing some of the finest players in Big Ten history—and more than a few major leaguers. Fan traditions included torchlight parades, kazoos, and the student band playing "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" as early as 1901.
There is painful history here, too. African Americans played on Wisconsin's first Big Ten championship team in 1902, including team captain Julian Ware, but there were none on the team between 1904 and 1960. Heartbreaking to many fans was the 1991 decision to discontinue baseball as a varsity sport at the university. Today, Wisconsin is the only member of the Big Ten conference without a men's baseball team.
Appendixes provide details of team records and coaches, All Big Ten and All American selections, Badgers in the major leagues, and Badgers in the amateur free-agent draft.
Honus Wagner: A Biography
Dennis Devaleria University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998 Library of Congress GV865.W33D38 1998 | Dewey Decimal 796.357092
With the coming of the twentieth century, America was thinking on a grand scale. Barriers of communication and transportation were being overcome and giants such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and William Randolph Hearst walked the land. The nation’s game was baseball, and its giant was Honus Wagner. In 1996, a baseball card depicting Honus Wagner sold for $640,500 - the largest sum ever paid at auction for a sports artifact. What could possibly make that piece of cardboard, approximately one-and-a-half by two-and-a-half inches, worth more than half a million dollars? The DeValerias tell the unique story behind this now-famous baseball card and the man depicted on it. In doing so, they accurately present the local, regional, and national context so readers gain a thorough understanding of Wagner’s times.Wagner’s gradual emergence from the pack into stardom and popularity is described here in rich detail, but the book also reveals much of Wagner’s family and personal life - his minor leauge career, his values, his failed business ventures during the Depression, and his later years. Neither the “rowdy-ball” ruffian nor the teetotal saint constructed of legend, Wagner is presented here in a complete portrait - one that offers a vivid impression of the era when baseball was America’s game and the nation was evolving into the world’s industrial leader.
If You Were Only White explores the legacy of one of the most exceptional athletes ever—an entertainer extraordinaire, a daring showman and crowd-pleaser, a wizard with a baseball whose artistry and antics on the mound brought fans out in the thousands to ballparks across the country. Leroy “Satchel” Paige was arguably one of the world’s greatest pitchers and a premier star of Negro Leagues Baseball. But in this biography Donald Spivey reveals Paige to have been much more than just a blazing fastball pitcher.
Spivey follows Paige from his birth in Alabama in 1906 to his death in Kansas City in 1982, detailing the challenges Paige faced battling the color line in America and recounting his tests and triumphs in baseball. He also opens up Paige’s private life during and after his playing days, introducing readers to the man who extended his social, cultural, and political reach beyond the limitations associated with his humble background and upbringing. This other Paige was a gifted public speaker, a talented musician and singer, an excellent cook, and a passionate outdoorsman, among other things.
Paige’s life intertwined with many of the most important issues of the times in U.S. and African American history, including the continuation of the New Negro Movement and the struggle for civil rights. Spivey incorporates interviews with former teammates conducted over twelve years, as well as exclusive interviews with Paige’s son Robert, daughter Pamela, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and John “Buck” O’Neil to tell the story of a pioneer who helped transform America through the nation’s favorite pastime.
Maintaining an image somewhere between Joe Louis’s public humility and the flamboyant aggression of Jack Johnson, Paige pushed the boundaries of segregation and bridged the racial divide with stellar pitching packaged with slapstick humor. He entertained as he played to win and saw no contradiction in doing so. Game after game, his performance refuted the lie that black baseball was inferior to white baseball. His was a contribution to civil rights of a different kind—his speeches and demonstrations expressed through his performance on the mound.
Frank Dolson Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress GV865.B83D65 1998 | Dewey Decimal 796.357092
Jim Bunning began as a $150-a-month rookie in Richmond, Indiana, spent seven years in the minor leagues, and still made it to the Hall of Fame. He pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, even though the first-base coach was relaying his catcher's signs to the batters, retiring Ted Williams for the final out. Bunning also pitched an historic perfect game against the New York Mets and performed spectacularly in a succession of All-Star Game appearances.
He was the second pitcher in major league history to win 100 games in each league. The first was CY Young. He was the second pitcher to strike out 1000 in each league; again, only Cy Young beat hims to it. When Bunning retired at the end of the 1971 season, only one man -- Walter Johnson -- had more career strikeouts.
A proud, intensely competitive man, Bunning relished his duels with Ted Williams, Micky Mantle, and other slugging superstars of the day. What he didn't relish was dealing with sportswriter who didn't do their homework and with baseball leaders whose mismanagement, Bunning felt, jeopardized the game's place in the nation's heart. He waged battles with the likes of former commissioner Peter Ueberroth and club-owner-turned-interim-commissioner Bud Selig.
But Bunning did more than play baseball. He was a driving force in the early years of the Players Association, one of the men responsible for choosing Marvin Miller as head of the union. Bunning also was a manager in the minor leagues and in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and was even a player's agent for a time. His baseball career behind him, he began a second career in politics. With a huge assist from his wife, Mary, the mother of their nine children, he waged an unsuccessful gubernational campaign in Kentucky and then became a six-term congressman. Bunning is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky.
It is said that Josh Gibson is the only man ever to have hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium. Some claim he hit as many as seventy-five home runs in a season. All agreed he was a frightening hitter to face. What Satchel Paige was to pitching in the Negro leagues, Gibson was to hitting: their greatest star, biggest gate attraction, and most important symbol.
Though Gibson is best remembered as "the black Babe Ruth," Ruth became a beloved symbol of the national pastime, while Gibson lived a life veiled in the darkness that came both from the shadow world of the Negro leagues and from within his own tortured soul.
Mark Ribowsky, the widely acclaimed biographer of Satchel Paige, pulls no punches in his portrait of this magnificent, troubled athlete. This is the most complete, thorough, and authoritative account of the life of black ball's greatest hitter, and one of its most important stars.
The rich slice of Americana found in minor league baseball presents a contradictory culture. On the one hand, the minors are filled with wholesome, family-friendly entertainment-fluffy mascots, kitschy promotions, and earnest young men signing autographs for wide-eyed Little Leaguers. On the other, they comprise a world of cutthroat competition in which a teammate's failure or injury can be the cause of quiet celebration and 90 percent of all players never play a single inning in the major leagues.
In Knocking on Heaven's Door, award-winning sportswriter Marty Dobrow examines this double-edged culture by chronicling the lives of six minor leaguers-Brad Baker, Doug Clark, Manny Delcarmen, Randy Ruiz, Matt Torra, and Charlie Zink-all struggling to make their way to "The Show." What links them together, aside from their common goal, is that they are all represented by the same team of agents-Jim and Lisa Masteralexis and their partner Steve McKelvey-whose own aspirations parallel those of the players they represent.
The story begins during spring training in 2005 and ends in the fall of 2008, followed by a brief epilogue that updates each player's fortunes through the 2009 season. Along the way Dobrow offers a revealing, intimate look at life in minor league baseball: the relentless tedium of its itinerant routines and daily rituals; the lure of performance-enhancing drugs as a means of gaining a competitive edge; the role of agents in negotiating each player's failures as well as his successes; and the influence of wives, girlfriends, and family members who have invested in the dream.
“We wait for baseball all winter long,” Bill Littlefield wrote in Boston Magazine a decade ago, “or rather, we remember it and anticipate it at the same time. We re-create what we have known and we imagine what we are going to do next. Maybe that’s what poets do, too.”
Poetry and baseball are occasions for well-put passion and expressive pondering, and just as passionate attention transforms the prose of everyday life into poetry, it also transforms this game we write about, play, or watch. Editors Brooke Horvath and Tim Wiles unite their own passion for baseball and poetry in this collection, Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems, providing a forum for ninety-two poets. Line after line, like baseball itself game after game and season after season, these poems manage to make the old and the familiar new and surprising.
The poems in these pages invite interrogation, and the reader—like the true baseball fan—must be willing to play the game, for these poems are fun, fresh, angry, nostalgic, meditative, and meant to be read aloud. They are keen on taking us deeply into baseball as sport and intent on offering countless metaphors for exploring history, religion, love, family, and self-identity. Each poem delivers images of pure beauty as the poets speak of murder and ghost runners and old ball gloves, of baseball as a tie that binds families—and indeed the nation—together, of the game as a stage upon which no-nonsense grit and skill are routinely displayed, and of the delight experienced in being one amid a mindlessly happy crowd. This book is true to the game’s long season and to the lives of those the game engages.
Man on Spikes
Eliot Asinof. Foreword by Marvin Miller Southern Illinois University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PS3551.S54O55 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Selected as one of baseball literature's Golden Dozen by Roger Kahn, Man on Spikes is an uncompromisingly realistic novel about a baseball player who struggles through sixteen years of personal crises and professional ordeals before finally appearing in a major league game. In a preface to this new edition, Eliot Asinof reveals the longsuffering ballplayer and friend upon which the novel is based.
Marvin Miller changed major league baseball and the business of sports. Drawing on research and interviews with Miller and others, Marvin Miller, Baseball Revolutionary offers the first biography covering the pivotal labor leader's entire life and career. Baseball historian Robert F. Burk follows the formative encounters with Depression-era hard times, racial and religious bigotry, and bare-knuckle Washington and labor politics that prepared Miller for his biggest professional challenge--running the moribund Major League Baseball Players Association.
Educating and uniting the players as a workforce, Miller embarked on a long campaign to win the concessions that defined his legacy: decent workplace conditions, a pension system, outside mediation of player grievances and salary disputes, a system of profit sharing, and the long-sought dismantling of the reserve clause that opened the door to free agency. Through it all, allies and adversaries alike praised Miller's hardnosed attitude, work ethic, and honesty.
Comprehensive and illuminating, Marvin Miller, Baseball Revolutionary tells the inside story of a time of change in sports and labor relations, and of the contentious process that gave athletes in baseball and across the sporting world a powerful voice in their own games.
Professional baseball players have always been well paid. In 1869, Harry Wright paid his Cincinnati Red Stockings about seven times what an average working-man earned. Today, on average, players earn more than fifty times the average worker's salary. In fact, on December 12, 1998, pitcher Kevin Brown agreed to a seven-year, $105,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first nine-figure contract in baseball history. Brown will be earning over $400,000 per game; more than 17,000 fans have to show up at Dodger Stadium every night just to pay his salary.
Why are baseball players paid so much money? In this insightful book, legal scholar and salary arbitrator Roger Abrams tells the story of how a few thousand very talented young men obtain their extraordinary riches. Juggling personal experience and business economics, game theory and baseball history, he explains how agents negotiate compensation, how salary arbitration works, and how the free agency "auction" operates. In addition, he looks at the context in which these systems operate: the players' collective bargaining agreement, the distribution of quality players among the clubs, even the costs of other forms of entertainment with which baseball competes.
Throughout, Dean Abrams illustrates his explanations with stories and quotations -- even an occasional statistic, though following the dictum of star pitcher, club owner, and sporting goods tycoon Albert Spalding, he has kept the book as free of these as possible. He explains supply and demand by the cost of a bar of soap for Christy Mathewson's shower. He illustrates salary negotiation with an imaginary case based on Roy Hobbs, star of The National. He leads the reader through the breath-taking successes of agent Scott Boras to explain the intricacies of free agent negotiating.
Although studies have shown that increases in admissions prices precede rather than follow the rise in player salaries, fans are understandably bemused by skyrocketing salaries. Dean Abrams does not shy away from the question of whether it is "fair" for an athlete to earn more than $10,000,000 a year. He looks at issues of player (and team) loyalty and player attitudes, both today and historically, and at what increased salaries have meant for the national pastime, financially and in the eyes of its fans. The Money Pitch concludes that "the money pitch is a story of good fortune, good timing, and great leadership, all resulting from playing a child's game -- a story that is uniquely American."
In the most comprehensive assessment of baseball legend Stan Musial's life and career to date, James N. Giglio places the St. Louis Cardinal star within the context of the times-the Great Depression and wartime and postwar America-and the issues then prevalent in professional baseball, particularly race and the changing economics of the game. Giglio illuminates how the times shaped Musial and delves further into his popular image as a warm, unfailingly gracious role model known for good sportsmanship and devotion to family.
The Powers: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3569.A94P69 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
1941 is a year of drama and spectacle for Americans. Joe DiMaggio’s record-breaking hitting streak enlivens the summer, and winter begins with the shock and horror of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The news from Europe is bleak, especially for the Jewish population. Joltin’ Joe, possessing a sweet swing and range in center, also has another gift: he can see the future. And he sees dark times ahead.
In her inventive novel The Powers, Valerie Sayers, in both realistic and fantastic chapters, transports the reader to an age filled with giants: Dorothy Day and Walker Evans appear beside DiMaggio. The problems they face, from Catholic antisemitism to the challenge of pacifism in the face of overwhelming evil, play out in very public media, among them the photography of Evans and the baseball of DiMaggio. At once magical and familiar, The Powers is a story of witness and moral responsibility that will, like Joe DiMaggio, find some unlikely fans.
Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game transports us onto diamonds and into dugouts on the other side of the globe, where the vigorous sportsmanship of the game and the impassioned devotion of its fans transcend cultural and geographic borders and prove that baseball is fast becoming an international pastime.
Called Yakyu, baseball has been played in Japan since the 1890s but has only recently gained a substantial global following. Robert K. Fitts chronicles the nation’s distinctive version of the sport as recounted by twenty-five of its players. Fitts’s careful choice of subjects represents the experiences of a mix of American and Japanese players—including stars, titleholders, and members of the Japanese Hall of Fame. Informal, candid, and remarkably specific, these recollections describe teammates and opponents, corporate owners and loyal fans, triumphs and frustrations, collectively capturing all the spirit and emotion engendered by the game from decidedly personal vantage points. Throughout, readers glimpse the unique traits of baseball in Japan and discern how the game has evolved since its inception as well as how it differs from its American counterpart.
An unparalleled introduction for an American audience, Remembering Japanese Baseball is augmented by photos of its twenty-five interviewees and a timeline demarking milestone moments in the game’s Japanese history. Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa! and The Meaning of Ichiro, provides the foreword.
“Gorgeous George” Sisler, a left-handed first baseman, began his major-league baseball career in 1915 with the St. Louis Browns. During his sixteen years in the majors, he played with such baseball luminaries as Ty Cobb (who once called Sisler “the nearest thing to a perfect ballplayer”), Babe Ruth, and Rogers Hornsby. He was considered by these stars of the sport to be their equal, and Branch Rickey, one of baseball’s foremost innovators and talent scouts, once said that in 1922 Sisler was “the greatest player that ever lived.”
During his illustrious career he was a .340 hitter, twice achieving the rare feat of hitting more than .400. His 257 hits in 1920 is still the record for the “modern” era. Considered by many to be one of the game’s most skillful first basemen, he was the first at his position to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet unlike many of his peers who became household names, Sisler has faded from baseball’s collective consciousness.
Now in The Sizzler, this “legendary player without a legend” gets the treatment he deserves. Rick Huhn presents the story of one of baseball’s least appreciated players and studies why his status became so diminished. Huhn argues that the answer lies somewhere amid the tenor of Sisler’s times, his own character and demeanor, the kinds of individuals who are chosen as our sports heroes, and the complex definition of fame itself.
In a society obsessed with exposing the underbellies of its heroes, Sisler’s lack of a dark side may explain why less has been written about him than others. Although Sisler was a shy, serious sort who often shunned publicity, his story is filled with its own share of controversy and drama, from a lengthy struggle among major-league moguls for his contractual rights—a battle that helped change the structure of organized baseball forever—to a job-threatening eye disorder he developed during the peak of his career and popularity.
By including excerpts from Sisler’s unpublished memoir, as well as references to the national and international events that took place during his heyday, Huhn reveals the full picture of this family man who overcame great obstacles, stood on high principles, and left his mark on a game he affected in a positive way for fifty-eight years.
Spitball n., an illegal pitch in which a foreign substance (spit or Vaseline) is applied to the ball by the pitcher before it is thrown.
Dead ballera n., a time period during baseball, usually regarded as 1900–1919, when the game used a "dead" or almost soft ball during play. Usually, the same ball was used for the entire game.
In 1911, when Bradley Hogg began his major-league pitching career for the National League’s Boston Rustlers, baseball was a different game. Hogg played during a time known as the dead ball era, when a pitcher could spit on, shine up, or even roughen a ball to secure an advantage over a hitter. Although only seven World Series had been played at that point, the names of the best and most colorful players remain familiar today: Cy Young, Casey Stengel, Honus Wagner, Rogers Hornsby, and Christy Mathewson.
During his major and minor league career, Hogg played with or against twenty-seven Hall of Fame ballplayers and under the critical gaze of two Hall of Fame umpires and eleven Hall of Fame sportswriters. In Spitting on Diamonds, Clyde Hogg details the life of baseball’s everyman, including excerpts from newspapers throughout the country to bring to life the times in which Bradley Hogg played. The author shows how Hogg’s career is representative of the thousands of men who have played professional baseball since its inception more than 125 years ago, men who didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame or win awards but made it possible for millions of fans to enjoy the game. These players were the flannelled hosts of America’s favorite pastime and the ones who made the game what it was and is today.
The author uses Hogg’s career as a spitball pitcher in leagues from coast to coast to show the rapid change and growth of our nation between 1910 and 1920. With enough baseball statistics to satisfy even the most hard-core fan, this time capsule of early-twentieth-century America will appeal to sports enthusiasts and readers of general historical nonfiction alike. They will find in its pages an America now visible only in faded photographs, along with a version of the national pastime that no longer exists. Featuring multiple bunts, double steals, inside pitching, and the now outlawed “spitball,” as well as the skill it took to hit such deliveries, this game was hard, fast, and nonstop. Spitting on Diamonds lets the reader understand what it was like to live and play professional sports when America and its national pastime were coming of age.
In 1946, as the aftershocks of World War II still trembled across the globe, America returned to its favorite pastime: baseball. In The Stars Are Back, Jerome M. Mileur offers a fascinating account of this storied season and of the backstage battle that would forever transform the game of professional baseball. Mileur begins with one of the most famous clashes in major league history: the neck-and-neck race to the National League pennant between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers. As these two iconic teams engaged in a bitter struggle leading to the first-ever playoff to determine the winner of the National League pennant, the Boston Red Sox blazed a trail to the top of the American League to face the Cardinals in the World’s Series, as it was then called.
But while the nation was riveted by the return of its beloved baseball heroes, the game behind the scenes was just as dramatic. As the threat of unionization loomed and the Mexican League continued to lure players away from the United States with lucrative contracts, tensions between players and team owners mounted. The result was a standoff for control of the game that would culminate in the Magna Carta of baseball and the creation of standard contracts for players, ushering in the modern era of baseball.
Set against the backdrop of a country recovering from war, facing the new adversary of Communism, and absorbing the emotional impact of the atomic bomb, The Stars Are Back tells the story of a nation hungry for a return to normalcy and a game poised on the brink of new horizons.
June 12, 1952—only a local sportswriter showed up at the Eau Claire airport to greet a newly signed eighteen-year-old shortstop from Alabama toting a cardboard suitcase. "I was scared as hell," said Henry Aaron, recalling his arrival as the new recruit on the city’s Class C minor league baseball team.
Forty-two years later, as Aaron approached the stadium where the Eau Claire Bears once played, an estimated five thousand people surrounded a newly raised bronze statue of a young "Hank" Aaron at bat. "I had goosebumps," he said later. "A lot of things happened to me in my twenty-three years as a ballplayer, but nothing touched me more than that day in Eau Claire." For the people of Eau Claire, Aaron’s summer two years before his Major League debut with the Milwaukee Braves symbolizes a magical time, when baseball fans in a small city in northern Wisconsin could live a part of the dream.
In 2007, the Mitchell Report shocked traditionalists who were appalled that drugs had corrupted the "pure" game of baseball. Nathan Corzine rescues the story of baseball's relationship with drugs from the sepia-toned tyranny of such myths. In Team Chemistry , he reveals a game splashed with spilled whiskey and tobacco stains from the day the first pitch was thrown. Indeed, throughout the game's history, stars and scrubs alike partook of a pharmacopeia that helped them stay on the field and cope off of it:
In 1889, Pud Galvin tried a testosterone-derived "elixir" to help him pile up some of his 646 complete games.
Sandy Koufax needed Codeine and an anti-inflammatory used on horses to pitch through his late-career elbow woes.
Players returning from World War II mainstreamed the use of the amphetamines they had used as servicemen.
Vida Blue invited teammates to cocaine parties, Tim Raines used it to stay awake on the bench, and Will McEnaney snorted it between innings.
Corzine also ventures outside the lines to show how authorities handled--or failed to handle--drug and alcohol problems, and how those problems both shaped and scarred the game. The result is an eye-opening look at what baseball's relationship with substances legal and otherwise tells us about culture, society, and masculinity in America.
Beginning with the Cleveland Indians’ hard luck during World War II, this thrilling history follows the team through its historic role in racial integration and its legendary postwar comeback. Rich with player photographs and stories, this book is sure to excite American history buffs and baseball fans alike.
In early 1942, baseball team owners across the country scrambled to assemble makeshift rosters from the remaining ballplayers who had not left the sport for the armed forces. The Cleveland Indians suffered a tremendous loss when star pitcher Bob Feller became the first Major Leaguer to enlist, taking his twenty-plus wins per year with him. To make matters worse, the Indians’ new player-manager, Lou Boudreau, had no coaching or managing experience. The resulting team was mediocre, and players struggled to keep up morale.
Feller’s return in late 1945 sparked a spectacular comeback. A year later Bill Veeck bought the franchise and, over the next two years, signed the first American League players to break the color barrier: Larry Doby and Satchel Paige. The 1948 season ended with the Indians and Boston Red Sox tied, resulting in the American League’s first playoff game. Thanks in part to rookie Gene Bearden’s outstanding pitching, the Indians went on to beat the National League’s Boston Braves for their second World Series title.
Lively and filled with vivid anecdotes, Viva Baseball! chronicles the struggles of Latin American professional baseball players in the United States from the late 1800s to the present.
As Latino players, managers, and owners continue to blossom into baseball's biggest stars, they have benefited from a growing Spanish-language media, a group identity, an increase in financial leverage and attention, and a burgeoning Latino culture in the United States. Although there have been several positive developments in the treatment of Latin American players, many, such as Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, and Ozzie Guillen, still face shocking racism. Samuel O. Regalado draws upon archives and rich interviews with Latin baseball stars like Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, and Minnie Minoso to show the changing tenor of discrimination in the twenty-first-century game.
Lively and unusual art inspired by baseball’s best all-around player.
As much as any other sports figure, Willie Mays embodies the changes that racial integration brought to America’s game fields and its larger culture in the mid-20th century. Playing baseball with grace, skill, flair, and obvious delight, Willie Mays broke color barriers for more than just himself. He combined the ability to stroke majestic home runs while with an equal ability to outrun and catch what would have been home runs for opponents most famously when he turned Vic Wertz’s titantic blast into a long out in the 1954 World Series. As is often said of great players but never more true than in his case, Willie Mays could do it all.
Assembled in this work are 40 representations of how contemporary artists respond to and portray the skill, fame, and sheer love of the game that make Mays so remarkable and memorable. The art includes a broad range of styles and media from impressionistic graphite pencil drawings on paper through realistic Kodachrome photographic prints to expressionistic colored acrylics on canvas or glass. Mike Shannon offers a perceptive introductory essay on Mays’s long career and places the art in the context of his times. First curated as a traveling exhibit to honor Willie Mays’s 75th birthday, the exhibit opened at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and is currently on tour.
Willie Wells was arguably the best shortstop of his generation. As Monte Irvin, a teammate and fellow Hall of Fame player, writes in his foreword, “Wells really could do it all. He was one of the slickest fielding shortstops ever to come along. He had speed on the bases. He hit with power and consistency. He was among the most durable players I’ve ever known.” Yet few people have heard of the feisty ballplayer nicknamed “El Diablo.” Willie Wells was black, and he played long before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. Bob Luke has sifted through the spotty statistics, interviewed Negro League players and historians, and combed the yellowed letters and newspaper accounts of Wells’s life to draw the most complete portrait yet of an important baseball player. Wells’s baseball career lasted thirty years and included seasons in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada. He played against white all-stars as well as Negro League greats Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Buck O’Neill, among others. He was beaned so many times that he became the first modern player to wear a batting helmet. As an older player and coach, he mentored some of the first black major leaguers, including Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe. Willie Wells truly deserved his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Bob Luke details how the lingering effects of segregation hindered black players, including those better known than Wells, long after the policy officially ended. Fortunately, Willie Wells had the talent and tenacity to take on anything—from segregation to inside fastballs—life threw at him. No wonder he needed a helmet.
To a generation of fans, Willie Mays was the greatest ballplayer they had ever seen. The prowess and speed of the Say Hey Kid were unmatched on the diamond before his time, prompting Joe DiMaggio to label him, “the closest you can come to perfection.” He was the first player to hit fifty home runs and steal twenty bases in a single season. Mays played for the New York Giants (1951–1957), San Francisco Giants (1958–1972), and New York Mets (1972–1973), and in his glory days with the Giants he not only set the major league mark for consecutive seasons by appearing in 150 games or more but by winning his two MVP awards a record twelve seasons apart. When Mays retired, he ranked third in career home runs (behind Aaron and Ruth), a record of 660 soon to be surpassed by Mays’s godson, Barry Bonds.
This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the only ballplayer biography ever named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Willie’s Time: Baseball’s Golden Age, restores to print Charles Einstein’s vivid biography of one of the game’s foremost legends. With a new preface from the author, this volume replays the most dramatic moments of the Say Hey Kid’s career—from the 1951 Miracle Giants to the Amazing Mets of 1973—and takes us inside the lives of Ruth, DiMaggio, Aaron, Durocher, and others along the way. Einstein offers a compelling and complete look at Mays: as a youth in racist Birmingham, a triumphant symbol of African American success, a sports hero lionized by fans, and yet all the while, still a very human figure destined to play for two decades amid baseball’s Golden Age.
White Sox fans were overcome with euphoria when their beloved team won after eighty-eight years of failure, and the long-suffering Red Sox Nation finally received their vindication in 2004. Now the Cubs are the only “cursed” team left: The team has repeatedly made the playoffs without ever winning the World Series for the last ninety-nine years, and yet thousands who bleed Cubbie blue pack Wrigley Field for every game. The reasons why ardent sports fans in Chicago and around the world buy expensive game tickets and memorabilia, fill stadiums, and live and die by their team’s fortunes is the subject of Your Brain on Cubs, an engaging study that delves into why sports engender such passionate emotions in us all.
A group of today’s leading science writers and neuroscientists explore here the ways that our brain functions when we participate in sports as fans, athletes, and coaches, taking baseball as the quintessential sport for all three perspectives. The contributors tackle such questions as: How does a player hit a ninety-mile-per-hour fastball when he barely has time to visually register it? Why do fans remain devotedly loyal year after year? And what allows them to believe in superstitions, such as a curse? Other topics investigated in the book include how a ballplayer’s brain changes as he gains experience and expertise, why there are a higher percentage of left-handers in the major leagues compared to the general population, and the ethical implications of neurological performance enhancement.
An expertly written and thought-provoking read, Your Brain on Cubs challenges us to reevaluate the nature of the sports fan and the athlete, revealing the scientific complexity underlying the seemingly black-and-white world of wins and losses.