From its first pitch, baseball has reflected national values and promoted the idea of what it means to be American. Beloved narratives tied the national pastime to beliefs as fundamental to our civic life as racial equality, patriotism, heroism, and virtuous capitalism. Mitchell Nathanson calls foul. Rejecting the myths and much-told tales, he examines how power is as much a part of baseball--and America--as pine tar and eye black. Indeed, the struggles for power within the game paralleled those that defined our nation. Nathanson follows the new Americans who sought club ownership to promote their social status in the increasingly closed caste system of nineteenth-century America. He shows how the rise and public rebuke of the Players Association reflects the collective spirit of working and middle-class America in the mid-twentieth century and the countervailing forces that sought to beat back the emerging movement. He lays bare the debilitating effects of a harsh double standard that required African American players to possess an unimpeachable character merely to take the field--a standard no white player had to meet.
Told with passion and righteous outrage, A People's History of Baseball offers an incisive alternative history of America's much-loved--if misunderstood--national pastime.
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 635 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 30 mm
"Chronicles the historic power struggles among those seeking to define and regulate pro baseball... A fine book."--Library Journal "A valuable and vibrant contribution to an expanding scholarly literature on American baseball."--The Historian "Nathanson's arguments are intriguing throughout."--The Journal of American History "Armed with convincing and creative arguments that challenge the many myths surrounding America's national pastime, A People's History of Baseball provides ample fodder for debate among sport history scholars as well as general readers interested in exploring the game's meaningful role in shaping the American identity."--Samuel O. Regalado, author of Viva Baseball! Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger "A People's History of Baseball provides vigorous and fascinating challenges to the ways in which fans have related to a game that [Nathanson] says has been 'virtually synonymous' with America for well over a century."--The Boston Globe "Nathanson has researched thoroughly, writes persuasively, and does not shy away from challenging even the most revered narrative in baseball: Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, and the integration of Major League Baseball."--Journal of Sport History "An excellent social critique that tells provocative and overlooked back stories about baseball in American history and culture. A People's History of Baseball goes beyond the game itself and examines larger issues of nationalism, mass media, legal history, and race relations."--Robert Elias, author of The Empire Strikes Out: How Baseball Sold U.S. Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad "Mitchell Nathanson's A People's History of Baseball is a historical corrective. It examines Major League Baseball (MLB) through an "alternative lens" (219), one that provides a useful, critical perspective. The book's six chapters cover a lot of ground. A thoughtful, substantive exploration of some aspects of MLB's unsavory past and present, A People's History of Baseball is a welcome alternative to the far more numerous baseball romances published every spring."--Nine