I admit in my knowledge of baseball there are some holes. The biggest void is in pre World War I knowledge. I know there are some fascinating stories to be read from that era, but I have never gone out of my way to learn about it. Todays book offers a rare look into that time frame for me.
The Summer of Beer and Whiskey
By:Edward Achorn – 2013 Public Affairs Publishing
It’s amazing sometimes when you find out the real reasons behind important events. Chris Von der Ahe who was the owner of the St. Louis team in the American Association is the driving force behind both the league and this book. Achorn’s book chronicles the upstart and growth of the American Association. The fledgling league was trying to attract business and at the same time clean up its act, as well as remove some of the dirtier aspects of their game. Gambling was prevalent and their hopes were by cleaning up the games, they would attract more business.
Through Von der Ahe’s promotions and work, they created a formidable league that actually turned a profit, as well as competing with the already established National League. With adding Sunday baseball and tickets for half the price of those in the National League, they attracted big crowds. Oh I almost forgot, the one thing that did help make their league a success. Through Von der Ahe’s direction they sold beer and whiskey at the games, which the crowds heartily enjoyed. In fact, that may have been Von der Ahe’s initial intent to being part of the league. He wanted to sell more beer at his tavern so he thought the association to the league would help his business.
Edward Achorn does a great job researching his subject. He goes to great lengths to explore and explain his topics. I can not imagine this was a very easy task considering the passage of time. Overall, I recommend it to the people who enjoy learning about this era, or are already knowledgable about it.
Now the down side of the book for me personally. At first, I was not sure if it was the book itself or the subject matter, but I found there were parts of the book dragging along. My thought is that it was the subject matter of the book and my lack of knowledge in the formative years. I have read other books that the subject was good, but the writing was horrible and it was still able to hold my attention. By far this is not one of those books. It is well written but the era did not hold my attention enough for me to really get into it. I think it may have just been an issue with me, and not so much the book. The right person who enjoys this era and is the least bit knowledgeable about it will really enjoy the book.
You can get this book from Public Affairs Publishing.