24 May 2011

These Are Worth Reading

John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden is sub-titled The Secret History of the Early Game. This is probably the most interesting presentation of 19th century baseball history available today, and probably the most truthful as it seems that a fair number of those preceding Mr Thorn were not quite telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."Mr Thorn carries the honor of being the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball.

I like the well-written though apparently scholarly way he goes about his business but then every once in awhile excitedly inserts himself into the dusty search of the archives in a surprising way. If Ken Burns, Jim Bouton and George Will all write glowing blurbs then you probably have the real stuff in your book. There are some very useful end-notes and acknowledgements.

It turns out that to get at the real beginnings of the game you have to start later and then work your way backwards, so that is why the book covers the 19th century exhaustively, even going well into the 1930s and the building of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown NY.



I hate to have to admit this but before I started reading this book I did not recognize the name of the author. I looked up Doug Glanville on Google and sure enough there he was just like his book said he was.

One of the reasons I like baseball is that, like cricket earlier, it has a literature starting in the early part of the 20th century, and at least some of the best players are insightful enough to write really good books. This is one of those.

Glanville is an Ivy League graduate, from the Univ. of Pennsylvania, and played centerfield for the Phillies, Cubs and Rangers between 1996 and 2004. 1999 was his best year, hitting .325, 11 home runs, 73 RBIs, and stealing 34 bases. He seems to be painfully honest in his analysis of himself and others playing at this level, both physically and mentally.

1 comment:

Ken & Carol said...

Another reason I like baseball is that someone, somewhere, keeps records that I would never have guessed were available. See, for example, today's Wall Street Journal which has a little trivia tidbit in it: On the last time a pitcher with an 0-6 or worse record was bested by someone with a 4-0 or better record. C'mon man. That is so detailed I shiver thinking about it.

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