American Legion Baseball

A History, 1924–2020


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About the Book

In the wake of the 1919 White Sox scandal and the suspension for life of eight players, baseball saw a precipitous decline in popularity, especially among America’s youth. To combat this, a group of World War I veterans who were members of the newly formed American Legion created an organization to promote teenage interest in baseball. Led by John L. Griffith, who became the first commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, the Legion undertook the revival of baseball. In the 1920s and through the Great Depression and World War II, Legion baseball grew steadily. By 1950 it had become the principal training ground for major league players, boasting at its peak more than 16,000 teams across the country. Tracing the long history of this uniquely American institution, this work details each year’s American Legion World Series and the ups and downs of participation over nearly a century.

About the Author(s)

William E. Akin is a professor emeritus of history from Ursinus College. His articles have appeared in The Historian, American Quarterly and American Historical Review. He lives in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

William E. Akin
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8574-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4389-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
1. Americanism and Baseball, 1924–1932 1
2. It’s True What They Say About the South, 1932–1940 22
3. The Golden Years, 1941–1951 39
4. The Fifties: Lou Brissie, Cars, Rock and Roll, and Cincinnati, 1952–1961 62
5. The Rulon Years, 1961–1975 83
6. Mid–Atlantic Dominance, 1976–1986 115
7. Toward Parity, 1987–2000 139
8. Storms on the Horizon, 2000–2010 165
9. Shelby: A Home for the American Legion World Series, 2011–2019 188
Chapter Notes 215
Bibliography 227
Index 231

Book Reviews & Awards

“Superb…Akin shines as a historian”—Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture