Cover image for A tale of two leagues : how baseball changed as the rules, ball, franchises, stadiums, and players changed, 1900-1998
A tale of two leagues : how baseball changed as the rules, ball, franchises, stadiums, and players changed, 1900-1998
Wright, Russell O.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 212 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV863.A1 W755 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV863.A1 W755 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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With the advent of interleague play and the realignment resulting from both the Milwaukee Brewers' jump from the American League to the National League and the creation of Central divisions, many baseball fans cried foul, claiming that their beloved game was being governed by infidels who cared nothing for tradition. These exasperated purists complained that realignment would mean the loss of existing rivalries, that interleague play would cheapen the thrill of the World Series, and that each move would contribute to the loss of statistical continuity. But change, even radical change, is nothing new to baseball.Arguing that self-alteration is perhaps the national pastime's truest tradition, Russell O. Wright shows that it is customary for management to change not only the rules, but the ball, the franchises, and the stadiums. The author considers the key rule changes, franchise moves, ball modifications, and variations in the player pool, and traces the effects each of these had on the game's statistics. The book includes tables, chronologies, and lists of logically presented statistics.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Through graphs, Wright shows that annual figures for eight important measures of baseball success--runs, batting averages, home runs, stolen bases, strikeouts, walks, errors, and double plays--have varied considerably over the past ten decades. He argues that these variations resulted from an interplay among five variables: changes in the rules, the ball, the number of teams, ballparks, and players' strategies. In presenting this argument, Wright consciously extends views advanced in his earlier books, especially The Evolution of Baseball (1992) but also The Best of Teams, the Worst of Teams (CH, Dec'95). He wisely refrains from contending that these five causal categories are the only relevant ones. Perhaps what can best be said for them is that they are more susceptible to precision than other factors such as the influence of the media, the evolution of equipment, or the tug of high salaries. Wright also refrains from overstretch, acknowledging that some phenomena--e.g., the frequent gap in bases on balls averages between the two leagues--defy explanation within his framework. Students of baseball history are likely to find much in this interesting book to pique their curiosity, but it raises almost as many questions as it answers. All levels. R. Browning; Kenyon College