Cover image for The national game : baseball and American culture
Title:
The national game : baseball and American culture
Author:
Rossi, John P.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : I.R. Dee , 2000.
Physical Description:
ix, 343 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781566632874
Format :
Book

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GV867.64 .R68 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

John Rossi offers not only an expert overview of baseball over the past 175 years; he shows how the game has reflected and contributed to changes in American society over time. The National Game chronicles baseball's popular successes and financial failures; its interleague wars and continuing struggles between owners and players; and its accommodations to radio and television--without neglecting the colorful players and managers who have won the hearts of fans. A succinct, knowledgeable synopsis...recommended. --Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post As a part of popular culture, sport has made a deep impression in American life. And nowhere is this clearer than in baseball, the game that seems to transcend generations and has made its way into our language and literature. In The National Game, John Rossi offers not only an expert overview of baseball over the past 175 years; he shows how the game has reflected and contributed to changes in American society over that time. The country grew up playing baseball, Mr. Rossi notes, but the professional game took hold in the cities of the Northeast just as the nation was transforming itself from a rural to an urban society. Essentially a middle-class attempt to create a club sport, the game began early on to integrate immigrant groups--and over the years it became an important pathway to acceptance for all kinds of outsiders. The National Game chronicles baseball's popular successes and financial failures; its interleague wars and continuing struggles between owners and players; and its accommodations to radio and television--without neglecting the colorful players and managers who have won the hearts of fans. For a readable, concise history of the game and its place in American culture, Mr. Rossi's book is hard to beat. With 10 black-and-white photographs


Author Notes

John Rossi teaches history at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Born in that city, he grew up there and studied at La Salle, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in history.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rossi delivers a brisk, straightforward overview of baseball's evolution, following popular developments that have altered both the game and the business since the sport's inception as a popular hobby more than 150 years ago. He argues that baseball, more than any another sport and many national institutions, is intrinsically linked to American social change because its evolution has been shaped by so many of the issues that affected a modernizing America: labor relations, ethnicity, class, race, the economy, the power of the press and the significance of tradition. Rossi follows developments within the game and then suggests how these have helped or hurt it in the eyes of the fans, using both anecdotal information and broad statistical categories like attendance records and organization profits. Individuals are less important here than trends. Club owners, in all their varieties, show up throughout baseball history as active forces in this evolution, sometimes unknowingly, often unwillingly. Business decisions change tradition (the Brooklyn Dodgers move West) and even play (the American League adds the designated hitter to match National League attendance levels). Well-read fans of both baseball lore and American history may find that the overview approach results in significant gaps and generalizations, and there is little discussion of baseball's impact on American culture. Rossi, who teaches American history at La Salle University, is more interested in the story of baseball's style of evolution--how baseball reacted to the economic or social state of the nation, and how the game fared with fans in the wake of those reactions. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice Review

Rossi (history, La Salle Univ., PA) seeks to "provide an overview of the connections between professional baseball and America's history over the past 175 years." Relying mostly on scholarly studies of baseball, especially the works of Seymour and Voigt, Rossi succeeds in telling the baseball half of his story in a concise and sometimes folksy ("champ" and "out of sync") manner. The social history and cultural context, however, are often completed within the first few pages of a chapter. Although there are statistics, the book is less a compilation of numbers than a cataloging of players, managers, teams, owners, and commissioners, in succinct yet colorful profiles. Occasionally, this borders on the stereotypical--"since many players ... [were] ... Irish and German ... they tended to drink." As in any concise history, selection forces omission, yet devoting only three pages to the Negro leagues, one paragraph to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and nothing to the women's league is surprising in a book seeking to reflect the country's social history. Likewise, in the eight-page chapter on the future, six pages are devoted to a review of the past. No mention is made of the costs of attending games, and nowhere is there any mention of drug taking. General readers and undergraduates. S. H. M. Reekie; San Jose State University


Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1 Origins of the Gamep. 3
2 Baseball as Big Business, 1876-1891p. 25
3 Coming of Age, 1891-1908p. 51
4 The Wars of Baseball, 1909-1918p. 75
5 Golden Age, 1919-1931p. 97
6 Baseball in Depression and War, 1931-1945p. 121
7 No Golden Age: Baseball, 1946-1960p. 147
8 Coming Apart, 1961-1977p. 169
9 Best of Times, Worst of Times, 1978-1994p. 191
10 The Future of the National Gamep. 211
Notesp. 219
A Note on Sourcesp. 227
Indexp. 236