Loyal Readers and Brewers Fans!
It’s time to take a visit to Yogi’s Book Corner!
On our last visit, your pal Yogi laid out a list of the best baseball books ever as a suggested Summer reading list.
In the interim, I came across several additional titles that I thought you might like.
Therefore, putting to good use yesterday’s “off-day” let me share with you the very excellent,
“Past Time – Baseball as History" [Oxford Press, published in 2000] by Jules Tygiel, Professor of History at San Francisco State University and author of “Baseball’s Great Experiment – Jackie Robinson and his Legacy.”
“Past Time” is organized into 9 Chapters (innings) each exploring a different “age” of baseball and highlights one or more important biographical subjects and puts their contributions to baseball within the larger context of American social, cultural, and technological change.
Beginning in the 1850’s with the advent of the game, the book moves chronologically into the establishment of professional baseball; the importance of “Grandfather Baseball,” Henry Chadwick, and his use of statistics; and then to the rise of the American league led by Charles Comiskey, Clark Griffith, John McGraw, and Connie Mack.
The next chapters explore the phenomenon that was Babe Ruth and then the ways in which radio and other technologies helped fuel the Nation’s interest in baseball.
I especially liked the chapters covering the careers and competition between Branch Rickey and Larry MacPhail as well as the history of African-American players in the 1920’s through the time of integration. Each of these chapters was rich in story and was made full by the ample quotes and references.
"Past Time" in general is loaded with colorful anecdotes and many of baseball’s luminaries find their way into the book. The footnotes are extensive and the index is complete.
Tygiel is most successful in explicating the history of American through the history of baseball in his chapter on Bobby Thompson’s “Shot heard ‘Round the World.” This chapter, like the others, treats the cultural and societal history of America with a fairly even hand and Past Time never comes off sounding excessively preachy or pedantic.
Perhaps the most interesting chapter in the book for you Brewers Fans will be the one on the Milwaukee Braves. This chapter painted a very colorful and captivating portrait of the emergence of the Braves in Milwaukee and how their success changed the way baseball as a business was conducted, ending in the flight of the Braves to Atlanta and the beginning of baseball of expansion.
In sum, “Past Time” is an enjoyable book rich in detail and offers an interesting and well-balanced look at the many aspects of baseball history and its biographies as they relate to American social, economic, and cultural history.
If you’re looking for a good general baseball history “Past Time” might suit your needs, no matter your level of interest or expertise in the subject matter. I think even the most knowledgeable baseball fan or reader of baseball history will enjoy this fine book.
And that’s a wrap of this edition of “Yogi’s Book Corner!”
I hope you enjoyed it!
I know I did.
I’m like that.
Just sayin’, again.