David Zang, Fleet Walker’s Divided Heart. University of Nebraska Press. Life of baseball’s first black major-leaguer also interested in the race question. Professor Zang teaches in the Department of Kinesiology at Towson University and has published books and articles on sport history. He has taught sports studies and American studies at three universities, and he serves on the publications board of the North American Society for Sport History.
Charles Alexander, Rogers Hornsby: A Biography. Here’s the real Hornsby, written by the author of other baseball biographies. Henry Holt and Co.
David Falkner, Great Time Coming: The Life of Jackie Robinson from Baseball to Birmingham. Simon & Schuster. The author of other baseball books and biographies gives us the life and times of the breakthrough player. This book is out of print, so the publisher is unable to send us a review copy.
William Humber, Diamonds of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada. Oxford University Press. The story of Canadian baseball written by a Canadian professor who has brought us other good baseball books. Although the book is out of print, the author, who lives in Toronto and teaches at Seneca College, has copies available.
David Nemec, The Beer and Whisky League: An Illustrated History of the American Association-Baseball’s Renegade Major League. Nemec, a baseball historian and active SABR member, has published several other baseball books. Lyons Press.
Henry W. Thomas, Walter Johnson: Baseball’s Big Train. Phenom Press and University of Nebraska Press. A detailed biography by this famous pitcher’s grandson.
Arthur D. Hittner, Honus Wagner, The Life of Baseball’s “Flying Dutchman” McFarland. Biography of a superstar and his remarkable career as a batter and shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Arthur Hittner, a Massachusetts attorney with a Harvard J.D., was a good-field, no-hit second baseman and shortstop. Now part of his law practice, stemming from his personal involvement with minor-league clubs, is in providing legal representation to buyers of such clubs. He has organized a national seminar on minor-league franchise investment, and he collects baseball-related fine art.
Marty Appel, Slide, Kelly, Slide: The Wild Life and Times of Mike “King” Kelly, Baseball’s First Superstar. Scarecrow Press. Personality and achievements of one of baseball’s lusty characters.
Dennis DeValeria and Jeanne Burke DeValeria, Honus Wagner: A Biography. University of Pittsburgh Press. One of the five original inductees into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame gets a full-length biography by two writers who live and work in Pittsburgh.
Carl E. Prince, Brooklyn’s Dodgers: The Bums, The Borough, and the Best of Baseball for 1947-1957. Oxford University Press. Stirring analysis of the intensity of the team’s relationship to the community by a professor of history at New York University.
G. Edward White, Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself 1903-1953. Princeton University Press. Progression of baseball from a marginal sport into a national pastime, written by a professor of law and history at the University of Virginia.
Patrick Harrigan, The Detroit Tigers: Club and Community, 1945-95. University of Toronto Press. Shows how the club evolved as an integral part of the city. Professor Harrigan teaches history at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, but he is a native Detroiter and long-time Tiger fan. He earned his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
Greg Rhodes and John Erardi, Big Red Dynasty. Road West Publishing. All about the Cincinnati Machine and its accomplishments.
Alan M. Klein, Baseball on the Border: A Tale of Two Laredos. Princeton University Press. Unique experience of a two-nation team, written by a cultural anthropologist and sociology professor.
Arnold Rampersad, Jackie Robinson: A Biography. Knopf. By a professor who has also written books on Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.
Lyle Spatz, New York Yankee Openers. McFarland. The author has won other awards for his work.
Bruce Markusen, Baseball’s Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s. Masters Press/Contemporary Books. Focuses on the emergence of a championship club despite its internal turmoil. Bruce is Senior Researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York. He has contributed articles to several national sports publications. The book has been expanded and reprinted by St. Johann Press under the title A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s.
Leonard Koppett, Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball. Temple University Press. Written by a well-known journalist and author of other books on baseball.
David Pietrusza, Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The striking career of a unique personality. Diamond Communications.
William J. Ryczek, When Johnny Came Sliding Home: The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870. McFarland. Shows how the professional sport evolved from a game practiced by a few amateur clubs to a pro sport played all over the Northeast.
David Stevens, Baseball’s Radical for All Seasons: A Biography of John Montgomery Ward. Scarecrow Press. Accomplishments of this influential players’ rights champion as well as star player, written by a teacher/social worker.
David Q. Voigt, The League that Failed. Scarecrow Press. Historical origins and seedy business practices in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Bill Marshall, Baseball’s Pivotal Era, 1945-1951. University of Kentucky Press. Focuses on the events and colorful characters of the transformative postwar era. Bill’s expertise lies in the fields of baseball history, oral history, and military history. At the University of Kentucky, where he is an archivist, librarian, and historian, his main title is Director of Special Collections and Archives. He holds a Master’s Degree in Library Science.
2000 Honorable Mention:
R.G. “Hank” Utley and Scott Verner, The Independent Carolina Baseball League, 1936-1938: Baseball Outlaws. McFarland. Declared “outlaw,” this league of Carolina textile towns attracted excellent professionals and persevered through three tumultuous seasons.
Bruce Adelson, Brushing Back Jim Crow: The Integration of Minor League Baseball in the American South. Story of a little-known aspect of the civil rights movement, written by the author of other books on sports and on historical figures. University Press of Virginia.
J. Thomas Hetrick, Chris Von der Ahe and the Saint Louis Browns. Scarecrow Press. Disputes, disasters, and legal battles characterized the career and the unique style of leadership of Von der Ahe.
Bryan DiSalvatore, A Clever Base-Ballist: The Life and Times of John Montgomery Ward. Original publisher Pantheon Books, now Johns Hopkins University Press. Biography of the pitcher-labor leader and his era.
Roberto Gonzales-Echevarria, The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball. Oxford University Press. Detailed chronicle of the history of baseball in Cuba, written by a professor of literature at Yale and former semipro catcher who was raised in Cuba.
Mark Rucker and Peter Bjarkman, Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball. Total Sports Publishing. Bjarkman, author of several books, is an expert on Caribbean baseball, and Rucker provides dazzling graphics.
Jules Tygiel, Past Time: Baseball as History. Oxford University Press. A collection of essays exploring baseball’s role in American cultural and social history.
Professor Tygiel taught history at San Francisco State University and published several books, including Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award. Originally from Brooklyn, Jules was a fan first of the Dodgers and then the Mets.
Reed Browning, Cy Young: A Baseball Life. University of Massachusetts Press. Biography of the famous pitcher by a professor of history at Kenyon College.
David W. Anderson, More than Merkle: A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History. University of Nebraska Press. Comprehensive story of a remarkable series of events in 1908, written by a telecommunications consultant who is also an umpire.
Richard Ben Cramer, Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life. Simon & Schuster. Prize-winning journalist portrays the flawed hero.
Jim Kaplan, Lefty Grove: American Original. A writer presents a popular star in this biography. SABR.
Wendy Knickerbocker, Sunday at the Ballpark: Billy Sunday’s Professional Baseball Career, 1883-1890. Scarecrow Press. Saga of the evangelist and base-stealing ballplayer, written by a museum librarian who also grew up playing baseball.
Gabriel Schechter, Victory Faust: The Rube Who Saved McGraw’s Giants. Charles April Publications. Optioned by Disney to become a movie about this awkward but amazing character who really helped the team win.
Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson. Red Sox Century: One Hundred Years of Red Sox Baseball. Stout helps edit the annual collections of pieces considered the best in American sports writing, and Johnson has co-authored and co-edited several baseball books. Houghton Mifflin.
Tom Melville, Early Baseball and the Rise of the National League. McFarland & Company. An original assessment of the forces that developed early baseball into an organized national sport.
Robert F. Burk, Much More than a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball Since 1921. University of North Carolina Press. Account of the paternalistic era by an Ohio professor.
James F. Giglio, Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man. University of Missouri Press.
Martin Donell Kohout, Hal Chase: The Defiant Life and Turbulent Times of Baseball’s Biggest Crook. McFarland & Company. Biography of a controversial character, a superb player but one strongly suspected of dishonesty.
Charles C. Alexander, Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era. Columbia University Press. During the Dark Thirties, baseball brightened the days for participants as well as spectators.
Charles P. Korr, The End of Baseball as We Knew It: The Players Union, 1960-81. University of Illinois Press. With thorough research, Korr reveals the relationship of this important union with major-league baseball.
Howard Bryant, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston. Routledge. Describes the institutionalized racism of the Boston Red Sox.
Jon David Cash, Before They Were Cardinals: Major League Baseball in Nineteenth Century. St. Louis. University of Missouri Press. Early major-league baseball in St. Louis when it was part of the American Association.
David L. Fleitz, Louis Sockalexis: The First Cleveland Indian. McFarland. Biography of the first man of his race to play in the majors.
Leslie A. Heaphy, The Negro Leagues 1869-1960. McFarland. Covers the famous leagues, clubs, and players.
Jane Leavy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy. Harper Collins. Biography of the legendary pitcher who was reluctant to be famous.
Joseph A. Reaves, Taking in a Game: A History of Baseball in Asia. University of Nebraska Press. Presents the Chinese experience with baseball as well as the Japanese.
Peter Morris, Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan. University of Michigan Press. Recounts the astonishing development of baseball in Michigan from the mid-1850s through the mid-1870s.
Reed Browning, 1924: Baseball’s Greatest Season. University of Massachusetts Press.
James E. Elfers, The Tour to End All Tours: The Story of Major League Baseball’s 1913-1914 World Tour. University of Nebraska Press.
Daniel Nathan, Saying It’s So: A Cultural History of the Black Sox Scandal. University of Illinois Press.
Brad Snyder, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators. Contemporary Press/McGraw Hill.
Neil Lanctot, Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. University of Pennsylvania Press. Presents the extraordinary history of a great African American achievement, from its lowest ebb during the Depression, through its golden age and World War II, until its gradual disappearance during the early years of the civil rights era.
Kevin Nelson and Hank Greenwald, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball. Heyday Books.
Alan Schwarz, The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics. Thomas Dunne.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game. University of Nebraska Press. Looks into the early history of the game and of the 150-year-old debate about its beginnings. Tackles one stubborn misconception after another, debunking the enduring belief that baseball descended from the English game of rounders and revealing a surprising new explanation for the most notorious myth of all, the Abner Doubleday–Cooperstown story.
Jean Ardell, Breaking into Baseball, Women and the National Pastime. Southern Illinois University Press.
Jonathan Eig, Luckiest Man, The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig. Simon & Schuster.
Timothy M. Gay, Tris Speaker, The Rough and Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. University of Nebraska Press.
Peter Morris, Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, (two-volume set). Ivan R. Dee. A fascinating and charming encyclopedic collection of baseball firsts, describing how the innovations in the game–in rules, equipment, styles of play, strategies, etc.–occurred and developed from its origins to the present day.
Brad Snyder, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports. Viking.
Mark Lamster, Spalding’s World Tour: The Epic Adventure that Took Baseball Around the Globe – And Made It America’s Game. PublicAffairs.
Merrie Fidler, The Origins and History of The All American Girls Professional Baseball League. McFarland.
Brian Carroll, When to Stop The Cheering?: The Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball. Routledge.
Lee Lowenfish, Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman. University of Nebraska Press. Offers an intriguing, richly detailed portrait of a man whose life is itself a crucial chapter in the history of American business, sport, and society.
Norman Macht, Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball. University of Nebraska Press.
Adrian Burgos, Jr., Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line. University of California Press.
Tom Swift, Chief Bender’s Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star. University of Nebraska Press. Takes readers on Bender’s improbable journey—from his early years on the White Earth Reservation, to his development at the Carlisle Indian School, to his big break and eventual rise to the pinnacle of baseball.
Andy J. Schiff, The Father of Baseball: A Biography of Henry Chadwick. McFarland.
Daniel R. Levitt, Ed Barrow: The Bulldog Who Built the Yankees’ First Dynasty. University of Nebraska Press.
Larry Tye, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend. Random House. In unprecedented detail, Tye reveals how Satchel Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him in breaking the Majors’ color barrier, emerged at the improbable age of 42 to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series.
Robert E. Murphy, After Many a Summer: The Passing of the Giants and Dodgers and a Golden Age in New York Baseball. Union Square Press.
Allen Barra, Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee. W. W. Norton & Company.
Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg, 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York. University of Nebraska Press. At the dawn of the roaring twenties, baseball was struggling to overcome two of its darkest moments: the death of a player during a Major League game and the revelations of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. At this critical juncture for baseball, two teams emerged to fight for the future of the game. Read the SABR release.
Mark Armour, Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball. University of Nebraska Press
Edward Achorn, Fifty-nine in ’84. Smithsonian
Jane Leavy, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. Harper.
Glenn Stout, Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. From the Seymour Medal Selection Committee: “This wonderful book celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park, and it contains a detailed account of the 1912 World Series. Stout has done unique research as he describes the construction of the ball park. It is by far the best description of ballpark construction that [each committee member] has ever read. Stout provides an overview of the regular season and the impact the new ballpark had on playing conditions during that season. The reader gets a real sense of how baseball was played in Boston 100 years ago.” Read the SABR interview with Glenn Stout.
Neil Lanctot, Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella. Simon & Schuster.
John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game. Simon & Schuster.
Robert K. Fitts, Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan. University of Nebraska Press. From the Seymour Medal Selection Committee: “The winner of the 2013 Seymour Medal is Banzai Babe Ruth by Robert K. Fitts. It is the story of the famous trip of an American League all-star team, featuring Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove, which barnstormed Japan in November 1934. While the focus of the book is on the details of the trip and the reception the American stars received in Japan, an underlying story of the political climate in the land of the Rising Sun provides some answers to the question “How did the United States and Japan go to war seven years later when they had this mutual love of the game?” Fitts gives the reader an amazing detail of the trip, which has been merely a footnote in baseball history until now. It is a well-written story of baseball, politics and American and Japanese culture. There are many photographs of the events of the trip as well as a number of Japanese players.” Read the SABR page on Robert Fitts.
Tony La Russa and Rick Hummel, One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season. William Morrow.
Norman Macht, Connie Mack: The Turbulent and Triumphant Years, 1915-1931. University of Nebraska Press.
Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend, by Gerald C. Wood (University of Nebraska Press). From the Seymour Medal Selection Committee: The winner of the 2014 Seymour Medal is Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend by Gerald C. Wood, published by University of Nebraska Press. Wood’s life in baseball included one of its most legendary seasons when he was 34-5 with the 1912 World Champion Boston Red Sox, including his record-tying 16 consecutive victories and three more wins in the World Series. When arm trouble finished Wood as a pitcher, he reinvented himself in Cleveland as an outfielder and helped the Indians to a World Championship in 1920. Following 14 Major League seasons, he went on to guide Yale University as its baseball coach from 1922 through 1942. The biography chronicles his life and colorful career in detail from his youth in Ouray, Colorado to his play as a Bloomer Girl and minor leaguer all the way to his receipt of the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale President (and later Commissioner of Major League Baseball) A. Bartlett Giamatti in 1985 when Wood was 95 years old. Gerald Wood’s thorough biography of Joe Wood is the result of extensive research and the use of numerous historical resources including archives, libraries, museums, historical societies, and personal interviews. The resulting book yields an important look into a long and unique baseball life.
The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption, by Stuart Banner (Oxford University Press)
The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych, by Doug Wilson (Thomas Dunne Books/St.Martin’s Press)
Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line, by Tom Dunkel (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Mover & Shaker: Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers, and Baseball’s Westward Expansion, written by past SABR President Andy McCue and published by the University of Nebraska Press, is the winner of the 2015 Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal, which honors the best book of baseball history or biography published during the preceding calendar year. The selection committee said, “McCue covers all the important elements in the life of the legendary and controversial baseball executive from his birth in the Bronx, New York, in 1903 to his death at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1979. The biography presents a balanced account of O’Malley’s life and career, most notably the issues and events leading to O’Malley’s move of the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, bringing Major League Baseball to the West Coast, and the building of Dodger Stadium. Thoroughly researched, the book is comprehensive in tracing O’Malley’s rise to President and Principal Owner of the Dodgers and one of the most influential men in baseball and all sports. McCue’s book, the result of years of research, benefits from a wide-ranging number of resources. It is sure to be the primary reference regarding O’Malley.”
Baseball on Trial: The Origin of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption, by Nathaniel Grow (University of Illinois Press)
The Chalmers Race: Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession, by Rick Huhn (University of Nebraska Press)
Johnny Evers: A Baseball Life, by Dennis Snelling (McFarland & Co.)
Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is the winner of the 2016 Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal, which honors the best book of baseball history or biography published during the preceding calendar year. Pennington, a veteran reporter who covered the New York Yankees during Martin’s final years as manager, will receive his award at the banquet of the 23rd annual NINE Spring Training Conference. The Seymour Medal Selection Committee of Michael Haupert (chair), Trey Strecker, and Stew Thornley released the following statement: “The winner of the 2016 Seymour Medal is Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Pennington wrote an exhaustive, insightful, and balanced biography of one of baseball’s most controversial managers. His research sheds light on Martin’s background and behavior without preaching or pandering, maintaining a perfect balance between action on the field and the many colorful events surrounding Billy Martin off the field. By the end of the book one thing is very clear: life around Billy Martin was seldom dull.”
In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball, by Mark Armour and Dan Levitt (University of Nebraska Press)
A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball, by Jennifer Ring (University of Nebraska Press)
The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees, by Steve Steinberg and Lyle Spatz (University of Nebraska Press)
The Eighth Wonder of the World: The Life of Houston’s Iconic Astrodome, written by Robert C. Trumpbour and Kenneth Womack (University of Nebraska Press). The Seymour Medal Selection Committee released the following statement: “Trumpbour and Womack’s The Eighth Wonder of the World raises the bar for future ballpark and stadium histories. In a book that is well-researched, well-written, and well-documented, the authors demonstrate the Astrodome’s role in transforming Houston from an oil and cow town to a world-class city and consider the iconic stadium’s impact on all subsequent stadium construction.” Trumpbour said the Astrodome will always occupy a special place in the evolution of Houston as an international city. Trumpbour is an associate professor of communications at Pennsylvania State University at Altoona and the author of The New Cathedrals: Politics and Media in the History of Stadium Construction. Womack, whose grandfather Ken Zimmerman was the Astrodome’s structural engineer, is the dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences and a professor of English at Monmouth University. Trumpbour said they decided to start working on the project as the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome’s opening approached. With his “fanatic” interest in ballpark history and Womack’s Texas roots, their partnership was a true collaboration.
God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen, by Mitchell Nathanson (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit, by Tom Stanton (Lyons Press)
The Selling of the Babe: The Deal that Changed Baseball and Created a Legend, by Glenn Stout (Thomas Dunne Books)
City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles, by Jerald Podair (Princeton University Press). The Seymour Medal Selection Committee released the following statement: “Jerald Podair’s City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles is a superb historical monograph based on extensive, original research and brilliantly written. Podair delineates clearly the connection between the decision to build Dodger Stadium and the intricate machinations and alliances of urban politics. This decision ultimately determined that Los Angeles would henceforth develop economically and culturally from a centralized downtown core radiating outward rather than a decentralized conglomeration of independent neighborhoods. The result was the creation of modern Los Angeles.” Podair, a SABR member and professor of history at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, said there has been a lot written about the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles, but “comparatively little” about what happened to the team after they decided to move. He said his book is “part of a growing body of work” that lays much of the blame for the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn at the feet of Robert Moses, the influential New York City power broker who controlled access to public funding during the 1950s.
Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character, by Marty Appel (Doubleday)
The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball’s Most Historic Record, by John Eisenberg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Home Team: The Turbulent History of the San Francisco Giants, by Robert Garratt (University of Nebraska Press)
Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers, by Debra Shattuck (University of Illinois Press)