Jules Tygiel Past Time: Baseball as History

ISBN 13: 9780195089585

Past Time: Baseball as History

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9780195089585: Past Time: Baseball as History
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Few writers know more about baseball's role in American life than Jules Tygiel. In Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, Tygiel penned a classic work, a landmark book that towers above most writing about the sport. Now he ranges across the last century and a half in an intriguing look at baseball as history, and history as reflected in baseball.
In Past Time, Tygiel gives us a seat behind home plate, where we catch the ongoing interplay of baseball and American society. We begin in New York in the 1850s, where pre-Civil War nationalism shaped the emergence of a "national pastime." We witness the true birth of modern baseball with the development of its elaborate statistics--the brainchild of English-born reformer, Henry Chadwick. Chadwick, Tygiel writes, created the sport's "historical essence" and even imparted a moral dimension to the game with his concepts of "errors" and "unearned" runs. Tygiel offers equally insightful looks at the role of rags-to-riches player-owners in the formation of the upstart American League and he describes the complex struggle to establish African-American baseball in a segregated world. He also examines baseball during the Great Depression (when Branch Rickey and Larry MacPhail saved the game by perfecting the farm system, night baseball, and radio broadcasts), the ironies of Bobby Thomson's immortal "shot heard 'round the world," the rapid relocation of franchises in the 1950s and 1960s, and the emergence of rotisserie leagues and fantasy camps in the 1980s.
In Past Time, Jules Tygiel provides baseball history with a difference. Instead of a pitch-by-pitch account of great games, in this groundbreaking book, the field is American history and baseball itself is the star.

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In Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy and the follow-up Jackie Robinson Reader, Jules Tygiel focused his historian's eye on what was arguably baseball's most stunning single event. Dissecting it from every angle, he followed its consequences through the weft of the national fabric in a pair of consummate, readable, and marvelously entertaining books that painted an arresting portrait of a remarkable man and his remarkable ordeal. In Past Time Tygiel widens his focus to turn his considerable narrative and interpretive skills loose on the broader tapestry of the game itself. The result is a superb collection of essays on American history filtered through the national pastime's lens. "If there is a unifying theme"--and there certainly is--"it is that while the game of baseball itself has changed minimally since its origins, the context and format in which Americans have absorbed and appreciated the game have dramatically shifted."

Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of the game, Tygiel uses the game as his doorway for entry into--and airing out--several rooms of the American past. Though the nine essays that make up Past Time reflect the game's nine innings and are presented chronologically, they are each entities unto themselves and can be read in any order. Rarely stepping onto the playing field, they avoid the mushiness and rhapsodizing that baseball tends to evoke. Instead, they take provocative looks at the often overlooked--like why statistics hold the game together, and why holding the game together was crucial to an America emerging from the Civil War--and fresh looks at old warhorses like baseball and the Depression era, baseball and civil rights, and baseball and America's post-World War II geographical shift. The final "inning" examines such recent obsessions as rotisserie leagues and fantasy camps, and the chapter on Bobby Thompson's famed home run and how the ways we would experience the game in the early years of the Cold War would change is thoroughly absorbing. But, then, so is the rest of Past Time. It has you wishing for extra "innings." --Jeff Silverman

About the Author:


Jules Tygiel is Professor of History at San Francisco State University. He is the author of Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy.

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9780195146042: Past Time: Baseball As History

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ISBN 10:  0195146042 ISBN 13:  9780195146042
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2001
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