As I sit here and recover from surgery, I remember this is the week that my wife and I were going to be crisscrossing the country catching our baseball games at various stadiums. It is somewhat depressing thinking about what could have been, but it is on the back burner for next year and hopefully without any unforeseen issues. The time off recovering has forced me to read more and allowed me to catch up on some of my posts. I have been able to look at some varying topics as of late and found a very interesting, off the beaten path topic for today’s book.
Inventing Baseball Heroes takes a look at how the media picks a certain player and uses their skills to fulfill a certain agenda. That agenda is creating hero worship for certain players within the game. This book centers on the early twentieth century and shows how the media helped make certain baseball players household names.
The book is looking at a different time in the world of media. The two main forms at that time were Newspapers and Radio. Through the use if these mediums the writers were able to promote their agendas in making certain players seem larger than life. Their exploits on the field were magnetized to an audience that was looking for new heroes.
The down side to the public looking for heroes was the fact that it allowed journalists of that period to blur the line between fact and fiction. Call it creative license if you want, but it leads me back to the old saying of never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. With reporting being what it was during that time period, you really have to wonder how much of what we accept as truth now is actually accurate.
Throughout the history of baseball and more precisely through each generation, you can see players who were regarded as both the clear and concise hero and one who was the clear and concise villain. These players are easily identifiable, and in more current times during the steroid era, some players have been on both sides of that line, again blurring the definition of hero and villain
Amber Roessner does a very nice job of looking at the actions of the media during the formative years of baseball as we all know it. It makes you wonder how much of what we accept as historical fact in the game is actually generated from the imagination of the media. It is something that one can clearly see continuing throughout the history of the game as the generations have passed on.
If you have any interest in the early media coverage of the game you should check this book out. It shows how our game was shaped in the eyes of our society. It also shows to some extent how we as an American society look to our heroes for guidance on how to act in our world.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Louisiana State University Press
There are so many available mediums available for the average baseball fan that it is almost mind-blowing at times. Television, Radio, Internet, Cable TV, Social Media, Fantasy Leagues and even Blogs have all taken their place in our society to bring the fan every facet of the game we love. It is hard to believe how these things have impacted the way we look at the game, and amazingly all this has evolved over the last century. It is also hard to comprehend that at one point baseballs only consistent outlet was through radio, and it was a hard sell at that. Today’s book takes a look at the evolution of baseball first medium, Radio.
James R. Walker has written a book that takes the reader through the birth of radio in baseball. It chronicles the struggles that baseball had to overcome to become part of the American fabric. From scheduling conflicts to sponsorship rights and legalities between both the government and the teams, it is all covered in here so you get the full picture of the birth of baseball on the airwaves.
The author walks you through baseball selling the rights to World Series games and how it eventually evolved into regular season games becoming the norm on the radio. This book also gives some very interesting facts about how the radio business operated at the time and how it effected the growth of baseball on the radio. It really was a convoluted system that impeded progress, but in the end the strength of baseball won out.
Finally the book takes you through the unprecedented growth of the game and its parallel growth on the radio. It also shows how radio lent itself to countless generations becoming familiar with the game. I found interesting that it shows the decline of radio once it was challenged by other mediums such as television and how it changed radio broadcasts. Some people feel that radio is the truest medium in which to follow a game, which I think to some degree is true. It forces you to imagine from the announcers story as to what is going on out on the diamond.
This book takes the reader back to a simpler time in society and shows the reader that even though baseball may not have realized it at the time, they were big business. There were some serious arguments over the baseball rights and substantial money was being paid to own those rights. Baseball fans will enjoy this book and the progression baseball follows in getting into american homes.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Nebraska Press
There was a time not too long ago in this great land, that the entire world was not at your fingertips. You could not hop on your computer, or pick up your cell phone and see almost instantaneously what was going on in the world. Hard core sports fans had to wait until the local or national scribes pieced together stories for the newspapers. With that delay in place fans had come to rely on their writers for accurate details and vivid pictures painted through the use of words. It helped form a bond between writer and fan that could last a lifetime. The saying goes, the cream always rises to the top, and the sports reporting field is not exempt from that wise saying. Now there are two books that celebrate and give their just due to two of the giants of their field.
Red Smith and W.C. Heinz are easily two of the most recognizable names in the sports reporting world. They both made writing look easy. Each was able to relay countless stories to hundreds of thousands of fans in a way that endeared them to almost every reader. Their knowledge of multiple sports and of people in general, allowed them to cover various sports and appeal to different generations.
Library of America has produced two great books that compile some of the best writing of each. W.C. Heinz’s writings cover everything from Horse Racing, to Football, to Rodeo and of course Baseball. His knowledge and insight give the reader a great account of events and allow for you to get a great picture in your mind’s eye as to how the games unfolded. The same can easily be said for Red Smith. His ability to cover multiple sports allows the reader to have a plethora of choices in topics to read, learn, relive and enjoy.
Books that are compilation books of a reporters articles usually scare me off. I always feel like they are grasping for content to fill an entire book and sometimes you don’t get the greatest of articles in the book. Happily that can not be said about these books, the articles chosen are all of great quality, and each book gives you over 500 pages of great writings.
Writers like this are a great link to the history of our favorite sports. They can take us back to a simpler time and allow the fans to gain some insight on events that the history books may have missed. If you ask most people who their favorite author is, you will get an answer of at least some person. If you ask a sports fan, they may not answer with an author, but more than likely a sports writer. These two men are credits to the writing industry, the sports that they covered, and both will be remembered for generations to come for their contributions to recording the history of each one’s chosen game.
Normally I say that Baseball fans would enjoy these, but honestly, all sports fans will enjoy these books. The sports covered in the writings are so varied, that if you are not well versed in certain sports as you would like, you may learn some new things.
You can get these books from the nice folks at The Library of America