HARRY HOOPER by Paul J. Zingg


An American Baseball Life
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 Zingg (Dean/St. Mary's College of California), a sports historian, ably records the life and times of Harry Hooper (1887- 1974), St. Mary's alumnus and baseball Hall-of-Famer. Hooper led the Boston Red Sox to four world championships (1912-15-16-18) as a first-rate fielder, clutch hitter, captain, and the best lead-off batter until the advent of Rickey Henderson. He was, says Zingg, ``steady, solid, and studied,'' and the realization of the American dream--a small-town farm boy of immigrant stock who made it to college and the big leagues. Hooper's story doubles as a coming-of-age tale of the national pastime, which emerged from ruffian roots to become a sport eagerly recruiting college students (especially from Catholic schools like St. Mary's) and taking pride in honesty and good manners. Hooper played many key roles in the gentrification of the game: setting a sterling example through his integrity; representing ballplayers in an early labor dispute; and bringing the Chicago White Sox back into the baseball fold after the Black Sox scandal. Zingg's social analysis never obscures the excitement of the game, however, including Hooper's miraculous catch in the 1912 series--as well as the other ways in which the athlete's tactical intelligence shone: He was the first ballplayer to use flip-down sunglasses, and the first to suggest that Babe Ruth become a full-time batter. Just like its subject: steady, solid, and studied.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-252-02006-5
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993


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