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Baseball: An Illustrated History

By Ken Geoffrey C.Burns
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Book Details
  • Author: Ken Geoffrey C.Burns
  • Edition: 1st
The authors of the acclaimed and history-making nationwide best-seller The Civil War now turn to the other defining American phenomenon. Their subject is baseball. And in words and pictures they provide the richest evocation we have ever had of the formidable institution that is our beloved national pastime, the "mere game" woven so deeply into our lives that it provides common ground for young and old, black and white, North, South, East, and West - for taxi driver and schoolteacher and president of the United States. During eight months of the year, it is played professionally every day; all year round, amateurs play it, watch it, and dream about it, losing themselves in a base runner's progress around the diamond, in the elemental clash between pitcher and batter, in the outfielder's lonely vigil. Baseball produces remarkable Americans: it seizes hold of ordinary people and shapes them into something we must regard with awe. Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, not gods exactly, not even necessarily heroes, but truly gifted human beings acting out universal fantasies that, for whatever reason, are most perfectly expressed on a baseball field. All this and more rings through Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns's moving, crowded, fascinating history of the game - a history that goes beyond stolen bases, triple plays, and home runs (although they, too, are here) to demonstrate how baseball has been influenced by, and has in turn influenced, our national life: politics, race, labor, big business, advertising, social custom, literature, art, and morality. The book covers every milestone of the game: from the rules drawn up in 1845 by AlexanderCartwright to the American League's introduction of the designated hitter in 1973, from the founding of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players in 1885 to the seven-week players' strike of 1981, from the 1924 Negro World Series (Kansas City Monarchs vs. Philadelphia Hilldales) to Jack Roosevelt Robinson's major-league debut in 1947, from the first curve ball in 1867 (pitched by Candy Cummings of the Brooklyn Excelsiors) to Nolan Ryan's seventh and last no-hitter in 1991. Nine essays by notable baseball enthusiasts, exploring their individual preoccupations with the game, complement the narrative. And a wealth of pictures, many in full color, document baseball's evolution since the mid-nineteenth century and bring to life its most memorable practitioners. Monumental, affecting, informative, entertaining, and sumptuously illustrated - Baseball is a book that speaks to all Americans.