July 2, 1903: The Mysterious Death of Hall-Of-Famer Big Ed Delahanty

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9780026124157: July 2, 1903: The Mysterious Death of Hall-Of-Famer Big Ed Delahanty

Investigates the death of one of baseball's earliest all-stars, whose ""accidental"" fall into Niagara Falls occurred just a few months before the team's corrupt owners organized the first World Series.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The title (a nominee for dullest of the year) refers to the day that Big Ed Delahanty, a heavy-drinking, heavy-hitting baseball superstar, tumbled down Niagara Falls to his death. An accident? Suicide? Murder? Sowell, who seems to specialize in baseball-death books (The Pitch that Killed, 1989), sorts through the clues in an intelligent study that, like its predecessor, uses tragedy as a springboard for carefully researched baseball history. Delahanty is forgotten today, despite his presence in the Hall of Fame and his spectacular lifetime hitting average (.345, fourth highest ever). Sowell does nothing to resurrect his subject's fame; he's far more interested in observing the social and economic forces that swirled around Delahanty's career. At the time of Big Ed's death, the National League, 20 years old and already carrying a reputation for rowdyism, faced stiff competition from the new, ``clean'' American League. Sowell recounts the battle for dominance between the leagues, as managers and players leapfrogged from one to the other while lawyers, union organizers, and gamblers stirred the muddied waters. Delahanty comes off as a minor figure, playing second fiddle to charismatic characters like pitcher John Montgomery Ward, a Columbia Univ. Law School graduate who racked up 47 wins in one year and was the first player to write a book about baseball. Nonetheless, Delahanty's strange death raises eyebrows. Was he driven to suicide by National League officials? Mugged by a stranger and tossed over the edge? What of the mysterious security guard who kept changing his story? Sowell takes no sides, except that of baseball itself, which he clearly loves. Filled with period trivia (``from the hotel, the players rode to the ballpark in uniform aboard horse-drawn carriages, a ceremony known as the `tally-ho' '') that lighten the tedium of the historical ins-and-outs, making this a hit--a solid double, no more, no less--for baseball buffs. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

The author of a well-received book about a lethal beanball incident in the 1920s ( The Pitch That Killed , Macmillan, 1989) here writes about Big Ed Delahanty, a turn-of-the-century slugger who met his death under peculiar circumstances. Thrown off a train while in a highly intoxicated state, Big Ed staggered and plunged into the Niagara Falls on July 2, 1903. Was the death an accident, or was it engineered by the many enemies he had made at a time when the brand-new American League was challenging the stalwart National League for players and recognition? Both a mystery and a history of baseball's early years (about which there is growing interest), this book should appeal to many readers. Recommended for popular collections.
- Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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