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McFarland Announces New Editor for Base Ball

McFarland is pleased to announce that Don Jensen is the new editor of Base Ball.  A longtime SABR member, Jensen is the author of The Timeline History of Baseball, as well as a number of articles on early baseball, including “A Base Ball Krank’s Guide to Madison Square,” from Base Ball‘s newest number, Volume 9.  He is a regular lecturer at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and recently received the Chairman’s Award from SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee.

In addition to being a baseball historian, Jensen, a former diplomat, is a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, and a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis.  He has published extensively on US-Russian relations and holds a PhD in government from Harvard.

Jensen will oversee Base Ball‘s transition from journal to annual book, a move intended to harness the publication to McFarland’s strengths—namely its book-oriented production expertise and sales-and-marketing experience—and expose contributor research to a broader audience.  The first volume in what is now a series picks up with number 10 and is scheduled for fall 2017, with pre-order availability by late spring or summer.

Jensen replaces John Thorn, who guided Base Ball through its first nine years and now becomes Founding Editor.   Thorn, who is also Major League  Baseball’s official historian, plans to remain actively involved as an advisor and sometime contributor.  

Stay tuned for more information on Volume 10

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Newly Published: Now with Kung Fu Grip!

New on our bookshelf today:

Now with Kung Fu Grip! How Bodybuilders, Soldiers and a Hairdresser Reinvented Martial Arts for America
Jared Miracle

Why do so many Americans practice martial arts? How did kung fu get its own movie genre? What makes mixed martial arts so popular? This book answers these questions for the first time with historical research.

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States enjoyed a time of prosperity but feared that men were becoming soft. At the same time, the Japanese government sponsored research to develop the best fighting techniques for its new empire. Before World War II, American men boxed and Japanese men practiced judo and karate. Postwar Americans began adopting Chinese, Brazilian, Filipino and other fighting styles, in the process establishing a masculine subculture based on physical and social power.

The rise of Asian martial arts in America is a fascinating untold story of modern history, from the origin of karate uniforms to the first martial arts themed birthday party. The cast of characters includes circus strongmen, professional cage fighters, an award winning comic book artist, the inventors of judo, aikido and Cornflakes, and Count Juan Raphael Dante, a Chicago hairdresser and used car salesman with the “Deadliest Hands in the World.” Readers will never look at taekwondo class the same way again.

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Authors David Krell and John Thorn on MLB Network

David Krell  and John Thorn recently appeared on the MLB Network. Krell, the author of Our Bums: The Brooklyn Dodgers in History, Memory and Popular Culture, joined MLB Now host Brian Kenny to discuss his book, which was recently reviewed in the Brooklyn Eagle and the New York Post. Thorn, MLB’s official historian and the editor of Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, was on Hot Stove to comment on the Pre-Integration Era Committee’s voting results. Both videos are embedded below—check them out!

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Andy Soltis Reviews Pawn Sacrifice on NPR

NPRMultiple award-winning author and chess grandmaster Andy Soltis discussed Bobby Fischer and the current film Pawn Sacrifice with NPR’s Robert Siegel on Wednesday, September 16. Listen to the full interview below!

Books by Andy Soltis:

Mikhail Botvinnik: The Life and Games of a World Chess Champion

Soviet Chess 1917–1991

Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion: A Biography with 220 Games

The United States Chess Championship, 1845–2011, 3d ed.

The Steinitz Papers: Letters and Documents of the First World Chess Champion

The 100 Best Chess Games of the 20th Century, Ranked

Los Voraces 2019: A Chess Novel

Chess Lists, 2d ed.




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EXAM COPIES AVAILABLE: The Sociology of Sports

978-0-7864-9767-6Instructors, to examine The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction, 2d ed. as a prospective textbook for your course, contact us using our exam copy request form.

“The authors are well-informed and reasonable, and they write clearly. If this text is not the best on the market, it is at least a contender for the number-one spot. Recommended”—Choice

In its second edition, this book takes a fresh approach to the study of sports, presenting key concepts such as socialization, economics, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, the media and the role of sports in society. The authors offer a critical examination but highlight also the many positive aspects of sports. Each chapter concludes with a popular culture section, showing how films, television, video games, music and short stories have contributed to our understanding of sports’ significance to our lives.

Other features include up-to-date information—such as statistics on player and owner salaries—and a look at recent controversies in sports, such as performance-enhancing drugs, domestic violence, online gambling and the growing concern over concussions and post-career health problems. The value of sports for people with physical disabilities and special needs is discussed, as well as the development of sports studies programs and the continuing importance of “sportsmanship.” The final chapter explores how social media, as well as new forms of virtual reality and the prevalence of video gaming, are reshaping the concept of what constitutes a sport.

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Ashe County: Where McFarland Resides


Authors, customers, friends, and fans: if you’ve ever wondered what McF’s mountain town is like, have a look at this neat response about our area from a recent vacationer.  (A special nod, too, to our Boondocks friends who regularly support us in a number of ways.)  We love where we live!


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Pat Venditte


Venditte (1)

Oakland Athletics pitcher Pat Venditte is an ambidextrous, not amphibious, throwing sensation who made his debut last Friday against the Boston Red Sox. Venditte was responsible for a rule change in baseball and is the first true switch-pitcher at the major league level since the 19th century, a feat first recorded by Tony Mullane  in 1882.

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Opening Day Sale!

It’s Major League Baseball’s opening day, and we’re condensing our usual Weekly Deal into a one-day-only mega-sale on ALL of our baseball books! That’s 20% off the list price of each of our nearly 600 baseball books in print! Use the coupon code MLB at checkout, but hurry, because the sale ends tonight!


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Photographs by Wilbur D. Jones Jr


Coastal NC folks: stop by for a look at works by our busy and talented Wilbur D. Jones, Jr. 

Photographs by Wilbur D. Jones Jr.

4-8 p.m. February 25, 2015

Hannah Block Historic USO / Community Arts Center

120 South Second Street / Downtown Wilmington

This exhibit of photographs spanning seven decades by a globe-trotting Wilmington native will be on display fromFeb. 25 through March 26, 2015. The exhibit will open with a reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the USO/Community Arts Center, featuring beer, wine, hors d’ouevres and music by Duke Ladd. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The public is invited and admission is free. The photographs are the work of Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., a Wilmington author and military historian. A retired Navy captain, former assistant to President Gerald Ford and World War II historical tour leader, Jones took photographs in dozens of countries all over the world from 1956 to 2014. His wide variety of images cover the people he encountered, landscapes and cityscapes, cultural sites and the aftermaths of wars, both ancient and modern. While his historical specialty took him to numerous World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific, some of which are featured in the show, Jones’ photographs span a much broader range. Examples include street life in Hong Kong and Japan in the 1950s, ruins of medieval castles along the Rhine, and the present-day waterways and domestic life of Holland. Jones’ travels have taken him to 30 countries on four continents, plus most of the major island groups in the Pacific, and to dozens of the world’s greatest cities, from Amsterdam to Tokyo. He is a member of the Cape Fear Camera Club and of the Wilmington Art Association.


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Kudos to Robert Kuhn McGregor, whose A Calculus of Color: The Integration of Baseball’s American League not only cracked the starting lineup for Library Journal’s annual Baseball Roundup but received the only starred review among the seven books featured.  The article, which reviews the best new and forthcoming baseball titles for the year ahead, hailed A Calculus of Color as “a best sports book of 2015, and one that will stand the test of time,” adding that McGregor “slams a home run in dealing with racism in baseball and the larger picture of American life.”  


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Ernie Banks


Like many baseball fans throughout the country, we mourn the passing of Ernie Banks, who died last Friday.   Banks, who started his career in the Negro Leagues, became the first black player in Cubs history, and he went on to become one of the franchise’s greatest.  He was also one of the team’s most beloved figures, in part because of his boundless optimism in the face of a decades-long tradition of losing.  Whatever the record or the attendance, Chicago was his kind of town.  He was our kind of Cub. 


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Football Time of Year: Part 2


Ohio State defeated Oregon in the inaugural CFP National Championship, marking an official end to the college football season. It wasn’t an especially memorable game, but it did feature multiple award-winning  Marcus Mariota (Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, etc., etc.) at quarterback, albeit in a losing effort. The Buckeyes claimed their eighth national title, but not to worry Michigan fans—you have Jim Harbaugh and his khakis to look forward to. And who knows, he could be the next Bump Elliot.

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McFarland Celebrates 35 Years

mainofficeOn April 1st, 1979, founder Robert McFarland Franklin departed Plainfield, New Jersey, heading south in a Volkswagen bug towing a U-Haul.  With wife Cheryl behind the wheel, Robert began company operations on a yellow pad in his lap.

Thirty-five years ago, libraries provided almost the sole market (but a robust one!) for the heavily-researched books that McFarland made its specialty.  Over the decades, the company won ever-growing numbers of devoted readers who appreciated the care McFarland and its authors lavished on our books.  Our authors, a throng of thousands now, teach us something new every day.

We’re having an open house Friday, June 20, from noon until 5:00.  Join us for tours, conversation, punch, finger food, art and books.

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Senior Acquisitions Editor Signs up 12-Volume Mark Grace Bio

Senior acquisitions editor Gary Mitchem has signed up a new manuscript to the baseball line titled Taking Care of Business: The Mark Grace Story in 12 Volumes.  Grace (a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native) played first base for the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks and owns the 148th best career on-base percentage in the majors.

“While all details are not yet set, we plan for one volume to exhaustively cover Grace’s doubles, another to do the same for his sac flies, and another volume to be completely dedicated to his relief pitching career,” said Mitchem.

Adam Phillips in the sales department is particularly optimistic about the book’s prospects. “With Mark Grace, the glass is always at least half-full,” said Phillips.

A lettered, limited edition for left-handed readers will hit the market Summer 2014, with the library edition following late in the year.



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OBITUARY: Robert G. "Hank" Utley

HankThirdBaseNCStateAuthor Robert G. “Hank” Utley passed away Wednesday, March 19.  Hank was a gifted storyteller with an incredible heart, and was very passionate about his community.  McFarland has been a big fan of Hank’s ever since he and coauthor Scott Verner first shared their manuscript about the independent Carolina League.  Through his own books and his research contributions to others, Hank introduced us to the mill town institution of outlaw ball.  Well, Hank Utley is also a mill town institution.  Hank’s books were not just about baseball; they were about the people.  Whether he was covering intense rivalries like that of the Kannapolis Towelers and the Concord Weavers, or relating the many facets of mill town life, Hank did an incredible job with his research and preservation.  Thanks to Hank, we will always remember this fascinating slice of history.  Hank, too, will always be remembered.


Obituary in the Independent-Tribune

Article about his work with the Boys & Girls Club

Author’s Personal Website

The Independent Carolina Baseball League, 1936–1938: Baseball Outlaws by R.G. (Hank) Utley and Scott Verner

Outlaw Ballplayers: Interviews and Profiles from the Independent Carolina Baseball League  by R.G. (Hank) Utley , and Tim Peeler with Aaron Peeler

The Easter Monday Baseball Game: North Carolina State and Wake Forest on the Diamond, 1899–1956 by Tim Peeler

Baseball in the Carolinas: 25 Essays on the States’ Hardball Heritage edited by Chris Holaday



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Celebrate 2014 with the best possible gift: books!

Our holiday sale ends today, Dec. 31st, so don’t delay!   Best wishes to all from your McFarland friends…happy reading!  Enjoy 20% off your order through today.  On the McFarland website, use coupon code HOLIDAY in the cart as you are checking out. Or, call toll-free 800-253-2187 (Mon-Fri 8:00am to 4:30pm Eastern Time).

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The Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon: 30 Years Old Today

Over on GeekDad, contributor John Booth writes about how Dungeons & Dragons came to Saturday morning cartoon land 30 years ago.  The cartoon was beloved by gamers and non-gamers alike.  Regarding the D&D game the cartoon was adapted from, Booth says:

“I loved it.  I was 12 years old, and, although I had a Fiend Folio and several AD&D modules, I never really learned to play the game for real.  My friend Mike and I rolled up characters — often cheating terribly: You’ve never seen so many 18s — and took turns guiding each other through adventures in a manner that would be an insult to the term “DMing.”  But we had fun, and our imaginations were sparked by the books and settings.”

Read more at GeekDad.

For McFarland books about gaming and gaming culture, browse here.

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Huffington Post Recognizes Author Tim Peeler

Last week we posted news of Tim Peeler’s recent reading in Boston, where he was the guest of the Boston Red Sox and read from Waiting for Godot’s First Pitch.  Now one of the people who helped make it happen, George Mitrovich, has published an appreciation of the poet, which can be found online at The Huffington Post:

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Fenway Park Writers Series: Waiting for Godot's First Pitch

Tim Peeler’s two most recent McFarland books are baseball histories, but to some of us here he remains a poet first, albeit one who in writing prose sometimes hits from the other side of the plate.  It’s been more than a decade since we published his first volume, Touching All the Bases: Poems from Baseball, and wider recognition has come his way in recent years—not long ago, he was named a finalist for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award for Poetry—but we congratulate ourselves for being among his early admirers.

Credit the Boston Red Sox, too, for recognizing a fine poet when they see one.  On Friday, August 16, Peeler will read from Waiting for Godot’s First Pitch as part of the Great Fenway Park Writers Series: