The Deadball Era (1901-1920) is a baseball fan's dream. Hope and despair, innocence and cynicism, and levity and hostility blended then to create an air of excitement, anticipation, and concern for all who entered the confines of a major league ballpark. Cheating for the sake of victory earned respect, corrupt ballplayers fixed games with impunity, and violence plagued the sport.
At the same time, endearing practices infused baseball with lightheartedness, kindness, and laughter. Fans ran onto the field with baskets of flowers, loving cups, and cash for their favorite players in the middle of games. Ballplayers volunteered for "benefit contests" to aid fellow big leaguers and the country in times of need. "Joke games" reduced sport to pure theater as outfielders intentionally dropped fly balls, infielders happily booted easy grounders, hurlers tossed soft pitches over the middle of the plate, and umpires ignored the rules. Winning meant nothing, amusement meant everything, and league officials looked the other way.
Mark Halfon highlights the strategies, underhanded tactics, and bitter battles that defined this storied time in baseball history, while providing detailed insights into the players and teams involved in bringing to a conclusion this remarkable period in baseball history.
What members say
- Ray R.
it's a great book with lots of colorful stories. Baseball fans will especially find the history of gambling, and the player's relationship with Ban Johnson very interesting as even Ken Burns didn't dive into the laissez-faire approach the league and the players took to the game just after the turn of the century. The depth of information is wonderful, but the author lacks Burns's storytelling ability to some degree, and unfortunately the author waits until nearly halfway through the book before the stories take on a more linear fashion with respect to time frame. Thus, initially it's a little hard to follow and seems like an unorganized collection of stories, but once the book takes on a linear approach to the history of the game, the book really starts to shine.
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