Early Baseball and the Rise of the National League


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About the Book

Did modern baseball spontaneously arise from the genius of the American people? Did professionalism arise simply from a desire to turn baseball into a business? Did William Hulbert, organizer of the National League, really “save” baseball? These are three of the questions examined in this work about early baseball’s role in American culture. Beginning with an introduction to the sport as achievement and expression, the author takes a close look at the early demand in New York for “the best against the best” in baseball and argues that this demand was contradictory to society’s equally persistent demand that displays of “the best against the best” be locally accessible. This work offers insights into how baseball operated in its early days, with special attention paid to the National Association and how the National League came into being.

About the Author(s)

Freelance writer and researcher Tom Melville lives in Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Melville
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 176
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0962-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5051-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Prologue: Sport as Achievement, Sport as Expression 1
1. From Winning to Achievement: Baseball and the Spirit of the City 9
2. The Course of Premature Nationality and the Crisis in Localism 23
3. Cincinnati and the Trauma of Professionalism 36
4. “This Gloriously Demoralizing Game”: The National Association and the Failings of Self-Direction 47
5. Chicago and the Making of the National League 70
6. William Hulbert and Baseball as an Enterprise of Cultural Distortion 102
7. The American Association and the Polarization of Achievement 127
Epilogue 138
Notes 141
A Note on Sources 161
Index 165

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Seymour Medal—Society for American Baseball Research
  • “Ambitious…stimulating…carefully researched and insightful…Melville is an extraordinarily diligent researcher”—Nineteenth Century Notes
  • “Groundbreaking study deserves the highest praise…a ‘must’ read”—Nine
  • “A strikingly original assessment”—The SABR Bulletin
  • “A fine job…very well written…informative”—VCBC
  • “The story of its rapid rise and insights into how baseball operated in its early days”—Sports Collectors Digest