Inventing Baseball: A Review

Inventing Baseball cover

Inventing Baseball cover

Haven’t done a book review in a while, so let’s change that.

There’s a book out titled Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the Nineteenth Century. It’s edited by Bill Felber. Published by the Society for Baseball Research (SABR) in 2013, it has an introduction by John Thorn, then there are 100 short articles looking at 100 of the most important games of Nineteenth Century baseball. The games range from a game in 1833 through the American League’s earliest games in 1900. The articles are written, primarily, by members of the SABR Nineteenth Century Committee. There are 46 different authors, a couple of them female. All seem to know their stuff.

As with any work written by multiple authors, the quality of the articles is uneven. Some are well written, some not so much. With 46 authors you can’t expect them all to be Hemingway. But as a rule the articles work for their purpose. They describe games, or in some cases, a series of games, that were critical in bringing baseball to the 20th Century. By dealing with games like the 1833 game the book shows how long baseball, in its various incarnations, has been with us. There are articles about college games, the first New York versus Brooklyn game (which is a great article), exhibition games such as the confrontation between Cap Anson and Moses Fleetwood Walker, and championship games. All addressed chronologically. The book is well illustrated with a number of pictures I’d never seen before and a lot that were familiar. There is also limited box score information. Much of the information is taken from newspaper or personal accounts, but some box scores are available and worth looking at just to note the evolution of statistics.

If you are at all interested in Nineteenth Century Baseball, this book is worth owning. It’s available at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com for under $20. Both also have it available in their Nook and Kindle devices.

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2 Responses to “Inventing Baseball: A Review”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely have to look this one up. I find myself increasingly drawn to that era.
    -Bill

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