Catalogue


Creating the national pastime : baseball transforms itself, 1903-1953 /
G. Edward White.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1996.
description
xiii, 368 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0691034885 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1996.
isbn
0691034885 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
1735772
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [331]-354) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
G. Edward White is University Professor and John B. Minor Professor of Law and History at the University of Virginia.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"A book for anyone either thrilled by the state of baseball today. . . An ideal introduction to how the sport became what it is."-- Dan Okrent
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1996-04-01:
It's a bit dangerous venturing into a subject to which so many entertaining and informative books have been devoted (John Helyar's Lords of the Realm or Andrew Zimbalist's Baseball and Billions, are two that come to mind). The best thing one can say about this addition is that White, a University of Virginia law and history professor and author of The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, does not take a dewy-eyed view of the game, as so many out-of-control sports scribes have done. His study on the reasons for baseball's eminence in American sports in the first part of the century, however, is frustrating. So lacking in prose style that calling it "lawyerly" would be high praise, Pastime is riddled with words like "monopsonistic" when "collusive" would do just fine. As an historian, White is objective to the point of being coy, relying way too much on such qualifiers as "may," "might" or "appear to be." After poring over old copies of the Sporting News for most of its 364 pages, White finally observes of baseball's national-pastime status, "It is possible, in short, that that status may have been linked, to an important extent, to baseball's economically and culturally anachronistic features." Back to you, Curt. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1996-02-01:
White (law and history, Univ. of Virginia, and author of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, LJ 11/1/93) turns his legal attentions to baseball. How did baseball, an urban sport originally known for its rowdiness and unwholesome image, transform itself into the mythical national pastime? White argues that proponents have always tried to sell a pristine image of the sport that is at great odds to the legal and business reality of how baseball is run. An excellent source for academic and large public libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1996-09-01:
In this flawed but important study, White seeks to account for what he sees as the remarkably stable character of organized baseball between 1903 and 1953. He argues that a "national pastime" that was also a "natural" pastime was molded in the pre-WW I era by club owners operating under the influence of the Progressive ethos and that the tenacity of the magnates' unreflective adherence to this ethos explains both baseball's unhealthy reluctance to adjust to change in its environment and its healthy cultivation of links with its own past. This broad theme sometimes recedes from view while White presents a sequence of loosely related, insight-laden sections treating such subjects as the symbolism of ballparks, the reasons for the 1922 Supreme Court decision, and the role of radio, but it never entirely disappears. Two kinds of difficulties mar his exploration. First, and touching on credibility, there are the odd factual lapses: the St. Louis Cardinals, for example, were not one of the successes of the opening decades of the century, and the game that Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker may have conspired to throw occurred before Judge Landis assumed office, not after. Second, and touching on coherence, there is the difficulty that the entity White purports to examine--namely, a peculiarly coherent half-century of organized baseball--seems by his own criteria (and by other plausible ones) not to have existed within the posited time frame. Nevertheless, all serious students of baseball history will want to be familiar with this book. All levels. R. Browning Kenyon College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An astute examination of how baseball emerged as the national pastime. . . . Things liven up when [White] looks at the gambling and cheating that were a part of the game early in the century, and when he examines the growth and economic importance of night baseball and of radio and TV broadcasts. . . . Baseball cognoscenti will find plenty to chew on here."-- Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. White, an affectionate but agreeably dry-eyed student of the game . . . is unfailingly interesting about the influence of Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio on American attitudes about ethnicity, on the business culture of an industry in which competitors also are partners, on the evolution of the relationship between major league teams and the journalists who cover them. . . . Mr. White's insights are frequently accompanied by fascinating facts. . . ."-- George F. Will, The New York Times Book Review
". . . perceptively examines the ways baseball mirrored a changing American society in the first half of this century. . .White paints an especially vivid picture of the evolution of the ballpark from a small wooden structure; through the concrete-and-steel boom of 1908-15. . .White is also strong on the pervasiveness of gambling and game-throwing, and how baseball's barons responded by inventing the rhetoric of its pure, pastoral roots. . . ."-- Jeff Z. Klein, New York Newsday
"Remarkable. This is one of the first books about baseball that doesn't confuse the game with the author's lost boyhood, his failure to connect with Dad, or the end of American innocence. . . . one of the most original studies of baseball in years."-- Jesse Berrett, LA Weekly
"This book should provide real insight into [baseball's] glorious past, and why it is no accident that we remember that past as glorious."-- Richard J. Tofel, The Wall Street Journal
"[White] is poignant in his description of the decline of the pastoral setting, as a new generation of owners found profit in suburbia. This study represents the best of serious research into American baseball history."-- Sol Gittleman, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, February 1996
Library Journal, February 1996
Kirkus Reviews, March 1996
Publishers Weekly, April 1996
Choice, September 1996
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
At a time when many baseball fans wish for the game to return to a purer past, G. Edward White shows how seemingly irrational business decisions, inspired in part by the self-interest of the owners but also by their nostalgia for the game, transformed baseball into the national pastime. Not simply a professional sport, baseball has been treated as a focus of childhood rituals and an emblem of American individuality and fair play throughout much of the twentieth century. It started out, however, as a marginal urban sport associated with drinking and gambling. White describes its progression to an almost mythic status as an idyllic game, popular among people of all ages and classes. He then recounts the owner's efforts, often supported by the legal system, to preserve this image. Baseball grew up in the midst of urban industrialization during the Progressive Era, and the emerging steel and concrete baseball parks encapsulated feelings of neighborliness and associations with the rural leisure of bygone times. According to White, these nostalgic themes, together with personal financial concerns, guided owners toward practices that in retrospect appear unfair to players and detrimental to the progress of the game. Reserve clauses, blacklisting, and limiting franchise territories, for example, were meant to keep a consistent roster of players on a team, build fan loyalty, and maintain the game's local flavor. These practices also violated anti-trust laws and significantly restricted the economic power of the players. Owners vigorously fought against innovations, ranging from the night games and radio broadcasts to the inclusion of African-American players. Nonetheless, the image of baseball as a spirited civic endeavor persisted, even in the face of outright corruption, as witnessed in the courts' leniency toward the participants in the Black Sox scandal of 1919. White's story of baseball is intertwined with changes in technology and business in America and with changing attitudes toward race and ethnicity. The time is fast approaching, he concludes, when we must consider whether baseball is still regarded as the national pastime and whether protecting its image is worth the effort.
Unpaid Annotation
At a time when many baseball fans wish for the game to return to a purer past, G. Edward White shows how seemingly irrational business decisions, inspired in part by the self-interest of the owners but also by their nostalgia for the game, transformed baseball into the national pastime. Not simply a professional sport, baseball has been treated as a focus of childhood rituals and an emblem of American individuality and fair play throughout much of the twentieth century. It started out, however, as a marginal urban sport associated with drinking and gambling. White describes its progression to an almost mythic status as an idyllic game, popular among people of all ages and classes. He then recounts the owner's efforts, often supported by the legal system, to preserve this image.Baseball grew up in the midst of urban industrialization during the Progressive Era, and the emerging steel and concrete baseball parks encapsulated feelings of neighborliness and associations with the rural leisure of bygone times. According to White, these nostalgic themes, together with personal financial concerns, guided owners toward practices that in re
Unpaid Annotation
Not simply a professional sport, baseball has been treated as a focus of childhood rituals and an emblem of American individuality and fair play throughout much of the twentieth century. It started out, however, as a marginal urban sport associated with drinking and gambling. White describes its progression to an almost mythic status as an idyllic game, popular among people of all ages and classes. He then recounts the owners' concerted efforts, often supported by the legal system, to preserve this image. Mr. White, an affectionate but agreeably dry-eyed student of the game ... is unfailingly interesting about the influence of Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio on American attitudes about ethnicity, on the business culture of an industry in which competitors are also partners, on the evolution of the relationship between major league teams, and the journalists who cover them. DLGeorge F. Will, The New York Times Book Review This book should provide real insight into [baseball's] glorious past, and why it is no accident that we remember that past as glorious.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface
Introductionp. 3
The Ballparksp. 10
The Enterprise, 1903-1923p. 47
The Rise of the Commissioner: Gambling, the Black Sox, and the Creation of Baseball Heroesp. 84
The Negro Leaguesp. 127
The Coming of Night Baseballp. 160
Baseball Journalistsp. 190
Baseball on the Radiop. 206
Ethnicity and Baseball: Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggiop. 245
The Enterprise, 1923-1953p. 275
The Decline of the National Pastimep. 316
Notesp. 331
Indexp. 355
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem