A full-innings exploration of some less celebrated (and a few better-known) moments in baseball’s history, by historian and
fan Tygiel (The Jackie Robinson Reader, 1996).
The ten essays in this collection portray the rise of baseball in the mid-19th century; the invention of baseball statistics; a
combined study of Charles Comiskey, Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Clark Grifith; a look at baseball in the 1920s; a portrait
of Branch Rickey; the story of Larry MacPhail in the Depression; an examination of baseball under the Jim Crow laws; an account
of Bobby Thompson’s famous "Shot Heard Round the World"; the history of baseball’s move west in the 1950s; and an
overview of the game in the 1980s. Tygiel’s highly interpretative writing offers fresh perspective on the history of the sport and,
more importantly, offer insight into the general histories of the times through the prism of the game. The chapter on the "Shot
Heard Round the World" looks first at the fabulous home run, then at the emerging medium of television that broadcast the news,
as well as at radio and Gil Hodge’s famous incantation, "The Giants Win the Pennant!" The essay on baseball’s move into new
markets in the years after 1953 offers a refreshing (and contrary) view of several teams" moves to new markets, including the
Boston Braves" move to Milwaukee and the St. Louis Browns" move to Baltimore—refreshing, that is, because Tygiel lingers
not on the heartsick nostalgia of fans whose teams left town but rather on the excitement of fans whose cities would now have
live, major-league baseball.
Although the characters that Tygiel portrays throughout his essays (such as Branch Rickey, Ford Frick, and Connie Mack)
are vivid and come to life effortlessly, it is in showing the broad sweep of baseball’s history that Tygiel excels.