If you look at baseball history as a whole, it encompasses a large amount of time. Thousands of people and events are all part of the greater story for thousands of reasons. Some of those events get lost to the passage of time, and rightly so. Just because an event happened does not mean it had any significance to the history of the game itself, it was just the action within the game. Some events have been suppressed from the history books, for selfish reasons by those involved. Today’s book takes a look at one of those events and how they helped shape the game as it now known.
Robert Ross has done some heavy lifting with producing this book. He takes a look at the 1890 Players League that was formed as a rival league to the existing National League. It offered better salaries and player shares of ownership to play in the league. This was in contrast to the business dealings of the National league already in existence. It also allowed the Players League to outdraw the Nationals by the end of the season. It is a valuable history lesson and shows the power the players have always had and what ownership would like to keep quiet.
This is truly one of the earliest player labor organization movements in the history of the game. They organized, had some backers and on most fronts were a success. While their success was for only one year, it shows the powers that the players held and what obstacles they could overcome if they worked together. In the end it was the fact that National League owners inflated their attendance numbers and cooked their books to the point that it made the Players League look inept. In the end that was the main downfall of the Players League.
After this failure the Owners held the upper hand for generations and the formation of the Major League Baseball Players Association almost 75 years later was the first real inroad the players made toward leveling the field with Ownership. This is where it would have been a benefit to former players to be students of the game. If they realized they held the power and had banned together sooner, they could have realized better pay and individual rights sooner than they had. This whole theory could have changed the way free agency came about and would have revolutionized the entire game sooner.
If you have any interest in the labor side of baseball, or rival league history this book would be a good choice for you. Yes it happened over a century ago, but it definitely is something that could have changed the direction labor relations took over the past 115 years. This is one of those history lessons ownership to this day would like to under cover. Because even today some of these principles could be used to the players benefit.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
I will admit, Bill Giles was never one of my favorite people. I am from the generation that grew up during Mr. Giles hands on, upper level management of my beloved Phillies. Except for one year after Giles’ ownership group purchased the team, the 80’s were not necessarily a great time to be a Phillies fan. His hands on management style and GM skills left a little bit to be desired for the Philadelphia faithful. I expected todays book to a biography on Bill Giles and his time in Philly, but got so much more………………
Bill Giles & Baseball
By John B. Lord 2014-Temple University Press
I did realize Bill Giles was a lifer in the baseball world, before I read this book. From his early beginnings, training under Gabe Paul with the Cincinnati Reds to his final destination as the Chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies. Giles has been an innovator, marketing wizard, peace maker, media genius and almost everything in between.
As stated above, I expected a normal everyday biography on Giles, instead I got a glimpse into the substantial impact he has had on the game. The author gives you some brief history of the game itself, then jumps in with both feet covering the economic challenges to the game during the 80’s and 90’s. You go through year by year exploring topics such as labor unrest, collusion, commissioner powers, media deals, revenue sharing, league restructuring and inter-league play. You learn how Bill Giles had a hand in fixing some of these issues as well as being the person who made some of the new ideas a reality.
John B. Lord does not forget to cover the positive impact he has had in Philadelphia. This was a good chapter for a Phillies fan because sometimes we tend to forget there are positives that exist with Giles ownership. You get an inside look at the building of Citizens Bank Park and all the hurdles that had to be cleared to make the project come to fruition. Finally you get a glimpse at what its like to assemble a championship caliber team in a city that loves winners.
The author did a great job showing the true value of Bill Giles. He has made valuable contributions to both Philadelphia and the overall structure of baseball. Being a cynical Phillies fan, I myself have probably overlooked some of the value of Mr. Giles. This book has changed my overall perception of him and has allowed me to look past the failings during the 80’s.
For baseball fans, this book is informative and well written and gives you a look at how the baseball establishment runs itself. I don’t think you get many opportunities to see how they function like this one. It also shows how important Bill Giles is to the game we see on the field today. There are many of his ideas out there on the field that we never would have known were his creations.
For Phillies fans maybe they should read it and see once and for all what Bill Giles is really about. Perhaps we have been a little tough on Ol’ Bill for too many years. This book has made me thing we are actually probably better off for having him here.
You can get this book from the friendly folks at Temple University Press