Book Reviews

BASEBALL and the American Dream


Baseball and the American Dream: Race, Class, Gender, and the National Pastime

                                         By Joseph Durso

M.E. Sharpe, 2001 – History – 308 pages

 This book by Durso is a national treasure. It is a gem about 19th century baseball. You may think you have a grasp on the subject until you delve into this fine piece of writing. 

This book does a wonderful job on reflecting on the culture of the times. He takes you back into several historical points and delivers where baseball and its beginning and years of unsureness to the culture fit into that period.

Roger Angell once wrote”Baseball seems to have been invented solely for the purpose of explaining all other things in life”.Baseball very closely mirrors our American culture as time goes by. 

 He fits the character of baseball into their prospective place in Americana. People like Andrew Cartwright. Wll;iam Hulbert, Henry Chadwick.A.G. Spalding, George Wright and the many others that got baseball going as the pastime of the United States.

Editor Robert Elias has woven together a collection of essays of exceptional diversity to look at how baseball and the American Dream have connected through history to the present day, as well as providing a signpost to the future of baseball in American popular culture. Featuring articles by former players such as Orlando Cepeda and Dusty Baker  legendary journalists such as Leonard Koppett, Andrei Codrescu, and Roger Kahn, and contemporary scholars such as Jules Tygiel, Gai Berlage, and Samuel Regalado, this volume provides a unique and valuable perspective on baseball and its distinctive place in American culture.

He touches on Shoeless Joe Jackson and the first steel and concrete stadiums along with the struggles of handicapped owner John Brush losing his wooden grandstand and telling his wife that it would mean to sacrifice but he wanted to build a concrete stadium. His wife, Else, assured him to go ahead. He built the magnificent Polo Grounds, a true beauty in baseball. 

He gives insight into Honey Fritz, the Boston mayor and a fine tenor in his own right and how he raised a song for their new stadium called Fenway Park.

 He tells us how the war brought people of all classes together to keep prices down in many areas of need. 

This is a splendid book that captures the true feeling of the game. Durso reaches out and touches all aspects of the game and the slow love that fans got at ball games. 

This book is 308 pages of joy. Be sure to put it on your bookshelf under history. It’s that good!

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