Baseball’s First Inning

A History of the National Pastime Through the Civil War


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SKU: 9780786441945 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

This history of America’s pastime describes the evolution of baseball from early bat and ball games to its growth and acceptance in different regions of the country. Such New York clubs as the Atlantics, Excelsiors and Mutuals are a primary focus, serving as examples of how the sport became more sophisticated and popular. The author compares theories about many of baseball’s “inventors,” exploring the often fascinating stories of several of baseball’s oldest founding myths. The impact of the Civil War on the sport is discussed and baseball’s unsteady path to becoming America’s national game is analyzed at length.

About the Author(s)

William J. Ryczek is a finance professional from Wallingford, Connecticut, who writes about early baseball, football, the Yankees, and the Mets.

Bibliographic Details

William J. Ryczek
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 269
Bibliographic Info: 17 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4194-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8283-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Preface      1

Prologue: Reliving the Past      7

1. No Rounders!      15

2. If Not Doubleday, What About Cartwright? If Not Cartwright, What About Adams? Or Wheaton?      28

3. What About Rounders? What About Old Cat?      37

4. The Jolly Old Knickerbockers, 1845–1856            43

5. The Base Ball Club      53

6. The Transition Years, 1857–1859      67

7. Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Other Antebellum Sports      83

8. Why Not Cricket?      101

9. The Southern Front: Sporting Life in Antebellum New Orleans      109

10. Baseball in Philadelphia      114

11. The Massachusetts Game      127

12. Year of the Excelsiors, 1860      134

13. Abner Doubleday Invents the Civil War, 1861      151

14. The Sporting and Not So Sporting Press      163

15. The Manly Fly Game vs. the Boyish Bound Rule and the Fair Pitch vs. the Jerk      174

16. The Eckfords Take the Championship, 1862–1863      185

17. The Evils of Championship Play, 1864      199

18. The Road to Professionalism      208

Appendix A: Letter from Frank Pidgeon of Eckfords re: Professionalism      213

Appendix B: Rules and Regulations of Base Ball as Adopted by the Convention of Base Ball Clubs Held February 25, 1857      215

Appendix C: Location of Grounds      218

Appendix D: Extended Box Score, Brooklyn–Philadelphia, 1862      221

Appendix E: Records of Top Teams, 1857–1864      223

Appendix F: Knickerbocker Rules, September 23, 1845      224

Appendix G: Knickerbocker Matches with Other Clubs      226

Chapter Notes      235

Bibliography      253

Index      257

Book Reviews & Awards

“superbly researched”—Library Journal; “a baseball thrill the near-equal of seeing your son line a double past the third baseman…a ‘must have’”—John Shiffert; author of Base Ball in Philadelphia.