In the late 1850s organized baseball was a club-based fraternal sport thriving in the cultures of respectable artisans, clerks and shopkeepers, and middle-class sportsmen. Two decades later it had become an entertainment business run by owners and managers, depending on gate receipts and the increasingly disciplined labor of skilled player-employees. Playing for Keeps is an insightful, in-depth account of the game that became America's premier spectator sport for nearly a century.
Reconstructing the culture and experience of early baseball through a careful reading of the sporting press, baseball guides, and the correspondence of the player-manager Harry Wright, Warren Goldstein discovers the origins of many modern controversies during the game's earliest decades.
The 20th Anniversary Edition of Goldstein's classic includes information about the changes that have occurred in the history of the sport since the 1980s and an account of his experience as a scholarly consultant during the production of Ken Burns's Baseball.
The book is published by Cornell University Press.
"Rich in delicious information, Playing for Keeps argues that the first years of baseball established patterns of double thinking that still govern the complaints and yearnings of fans. Playing for Keeps tells its story with affection. Its calming long perspective should reassure lovers of the game - or business - as we approach new crises and apparent transformations." (New York Times Book Review)
"This is a marvelous book, tightly structured, entertaining, beautifully written; and, like the best social history, it focuses on the particular [story] to enlarge our understanding of the general [American society and culture]." (The Nation)
"A strikingly original interpretation of baseball's early history, Playing for Keeps is imaginatively conceived and rich in texture. It is not only commendable for its treatment of baseball history but appreciably expands our knowledge of nineteenth-century American urban life in general." (Journal of American History)
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Scholarship is outstanding. The author covers in detail an important and often lightly mentioned part of baseball in other books I have read about baseball history.
If you like books about old time players like Wagner, Radbourn, Cobb, or Hornsby, this book will be right down your alley.
I liked how he showed the various arguments as to where baseball came from.
Baseball: The Early Days
- Hugh R. Williams