BASEBALL: The Golden Age, 1903-1930 by Harold Seymour

BASEBALL: The Golden Age, 1903-1930

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second of a projected three volumes continues in the serious vein of the 1960 first, providing a systematic, well-nigh exhaustive history of the internal workings of Organized Baseball (author's caps) under the auspices of the self-governing Commission and then, after the 1919 Series-fixing scandal Forced a show of reform, under the autocratic rule of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. That baseball was already in disarray -- what with player-management disputes over the reserve clause and other restrictive practices (a continuing theme), the anti-trust challenge of a third league, the World War I squeeze and bitter internal conflicts; that gambling was rampant but the fix was never proven, that the Dirty Sox were ""acquitted but still condemned""; that, though ""honest and fearless,"" Landis was ""narrow, arbitrary and vindictive"" -- all serves to demolish myth. Less extensive but of greater interest to the average fan are the observations on changes in the manner of playing (power passing from the pitcher to the hitler after 1920) and the sharp delineation of top players and teams. On the other hand, this, like the first, remains incomplete as social history; parallel developments in American life are indicated, as are the causes for e.g. booming attendance, but the reverse, the effect of baseball on the larger society, is not analyzed. (Discussion of blacks is postponed until the period of their ""major impact"" after World War I.) Scholars will regret, too, the absence of footnotes for which the identification of major sources is no substitute. This because the vast research makes the series, if not definitive, the nearest thing to it, and Mr. Seymour's acuity gives it substance.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1971
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press