When Johnny Came Sliding Home

The Post–Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865–1870


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About the Book

As the Civil War ended, the thoughts of many Northern soldiers turned to a game that some had learned about for the first time during the war—baseball. Their newfound interest in the sport, combined with the postwar economic boom and the resultant growth of many cities, took the game from one practiced by a few amateur clubs in New York City before the war to a professional sport covering almost the entire northeastern United States.
Researched from primary sources, the game of the late 1860s is described season-by-season: the fields, the crowds, the strategy, the rules, the style of play, and the confusing struggles to crown a national champion, with all the chicanery and machinations of the contenders. Such landmark events as the Washington Nationals’ pioneering 1867 tour and the Cincinnati Red Stockings’ undefeated 1869 season are covered.

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 (6 x 9)
Pages: 323
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [1998]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2757-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

1 Taunting on the Old Ball Ground: August 23, 1860      3

2 Keep Your Eye on the Ball: Origins of Baseball      9

3 When Johnny Came Marching Home      17

4 The Ladies They Will All Turn Out      26

5 Playing the Points      43

6 The Only Game in Town      52

7 Now We’re Off      57

8 Wansley and McKeever      75

9 A Country Club      80

10 A Riot in Philadelphia      87

11 Separate and Unequal      98

12 Farewell, New York      104

13 Every Man a King      109

14 When We Went Westward Ho      116

15 The Unions Forever      127

16 The Father of the Game and His Prodigal Sons      136

17 They All Went Westward Ho      149

18 The Gold Ball      156

19 Open Professionalism      162

20 The Red Stockings      168

21 The Glorious Season      178

22 The Gold Ball, Part Two      194

23 The Eighteen Thousand Dollar Nine      200

24 Though Beaten, Not Disgraced      207

25 Another Championship Squabble      214

26 Disgraced      232

27 Grand Central Hotel      241

Appendix A: Team Rosters      253

Appendix B: Methods of Compensation, 1870      263

Appendix C: Records of Philadelphia Athletics and Brooklyn Atlantics      264

Appendix D: Results from Noteworthy Tours      265

Notes      269

Bibliography      303

Index      307

Book Reviews & Awards

Runner-up, Casey Award—Spitball. Finalist, Seymour Medal—Society for American Baseball Research.
“interesting…extremely rich”—Choice; “superb”—Sports Collectors Digest; “a must read for everyone who hopes to understand the transformation of top-rank baseball from amateur obsession to professional sport, and a must own for everyone researching the game’s early history and development. With over a thousand citations to contemporary sources Ryczek’s new book is far and away the most deeply researched account of the game’s immediate post–Civil War years…not only a crucial text for students of early baseball, but one of the best books of baseball history written to date”—Nineteenth Century Notes; “important…thorough and well-researched…extensive bibliography”—HaroldSeymour.com.