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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

LA Times: Baseball books cover the bases

Among the most compelling baseball books this season is UCLA law professor Stuart Banner’s “The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption” (Oxford University Press: 304 pp., $29.95), a look at the game’s idiosyncratic legal status: Of all the major sports, it is the only one exempt from federal antitrust law.

How did this happen? “The most common explanation emphasizes the unique position of baseball in American culture,” Banner writes, before arguing that like so much in baseball, this is sentimental myth. Rather, the exemption, which dates from 1922 and has been affirmed repeatedly, is the result of “a sophisticated business organization [that] has been able to work the levers of the legal system.”

Its legacies include the reserve clause, which for decades bound players to their teams, and expansion, another fascinating if underexplored area that is the subject of Fran Zimniuch’s “Baseball’s New Frontier: A History of Expansion, 1961-1998” (University of Nebraska Press: 232 pp., $19.95 paper).

bobm Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:42 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: anti-trust, books, dimaggio, expansion, jackie robinson

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   1. deputydrew Posted: April 02, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4401927)
Standard baseball book thread:
1. The Lords of the Realm
2. Veeck as in Wreck
3. The Glory of Their Times

I just got a new kindle and would love to get some ideas for new books.
   2. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 02, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4401942)
Kevin Kerrane's Dollar Sign on the Muscle is supposed to be coming into print again after many years. A very good book about scouting, written in the early 1980s.
   3. deputydrew Posted: April 02, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4401955)
Dollar Sign on the Muscle


Found that in a box when I moved about a month ago. It's high on my list, for sure.
   4. Steve Treder Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4401989)
Probably the best book that's come out within the past few years is Lee Lowenfish's masterpiece biography of Branch Rickey. A stunning work of scholarship that reads smoothly and easily.

I'm currently reading a new one that isn't a great book or really even a good one, but dang if the content of the story makes it worthwhile nonetheless: a bio of scout Hugh Alexander. A terrific tale that I'll freely admit to not knowing about.

This kid hits .347 with 57 HRs in 782 at-bats in two low-minors seasons -- as a teenager -- then has his hand torn clean off in a farm machinery accident and can never play again. So, of course, he becomes a scout and has an amazing career that goes on for like 60 years.
   5. AndrewJ Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4401991)
Amazon's not really advertising it, but their Kindle versions of baseball books from David Halberstam, Roger Angell and Roger Kahn are on sale for just $2.98 each. You should check it out.
   6. beefshower Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4402049)
I just picked up "The Bird" by Doug Wilson over the weekend. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to sit down and really get into it but the parts I have read so far are promising. Has anyone here had a chance to read it yet?
I'm also looking forward to the Summer of Beer and Whiskey by Edward Achorn. I really enjoyed 59 in 84 and if we get a Chris Von der Ahe twitter account out of it thats half as good as Old Hoss than it should be worth it.
Finally has anyone read Pitching in a Pinch I saw my local book store was carrying it and thought I would pick it up but I'm about fifty books behind on my reading list so I don't want to add to it.
   7. Steve Treder Posted: April 02, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4402053)
has anyone read Pitching in a Pinch

Yes. It's a delight.
   8. Cblau Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:16 PM (#4402604)
I recently read Achorn's book on Old Hoss Radbourn. It was very well researched and written. I look forward to his new book.
   9. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4402634)
iirc, Pitching in a Pinch is now vailable for free online.
   10. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:21 PM (#4402698)
I'm reading Matt Silverman's book, Swingin' '73, and it's very, very good. It looks at the 1973 season (and American culture at the time) through the Mets, the Yankees, and the A's. Well written, detailed, and fast moving.
   11. killebrewfan Posted: July 01, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4482137)
I recently read The Bird by Doug Wilson about Mark Fidrych. It brought back great memories. I thought it was very well written and was the most entertaining baseball book I've read in a long time.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: July 01, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4482171)
Mark Stang's photo albums of 8 of the original 16 teams are as good as anything I've seen in the past 10 or 15 years. They're relatively inexpensive considering the quality, and they're cheaper on his website than they are on Amazon. So far he's done the Indians, A's, Senators, Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, and Cubs. They're like getting a pass to the photo files of the newspaper sports departments of the 20th century, and there's never been any other book series remotely like it.

Another great set of books is the "Century" series by Glenn Stout. So far he's done the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers.

Steve's suggestion about the Lowenfish Rickey bio is a good one, and there's also Norman Macht's first two volumes of a projected 3 volume bio of Connie Mack; Daniel Levitt's bio of Ed Barrow; and David Pietrusza's doorstopper bio of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The biggest gap at this point is a good bio of J.G. Taylor Spink, the Sporting News publisher who's arguably one of the ten most important men in baseball history.
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: July 01, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4482172)
double post

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