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Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game (2011)

de John Thorn

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18010118,891 (4.04)7
Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Did baseball even have a father--or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball's preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling, a proxy form of class warfare. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. He shows how the sport's increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. Full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes, this book tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed--all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime.--From publisher description.… (mais)
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This book offers a fascinating look at the early days of baseball from a man who seems to know everything there is to know about them.
In the course of debunking the tale of Abner Doubleday having anything to do with inventing the game, Thorn also explores the reasons why it was so important to create that myth. In addition to showing that the game had no foreign antecedents, it also served the agenda of influential Theosophists, something I previously had known nothing about.
The title might mislead you if you pick the book up expecting a nostalgic tour of the pristine origin of the sport and a lament about how things would be better if we could just recapture the good old days. No, the serpent was present from the beginning, to continue with the metaphor of Eden.
Even if the game is not pure American in origin, Thorn, in recounting the presence of gamblers, ruffians, racists, and avaricious owners from the very start, did convince me that the game truly is a mirror of the nation, and thus deserves to be called the national pastime. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
A fantastic history on the beginning of the National Pastime. Thorn discounts the long held beliefs of baseball's origins and presents the games true evolution. Along the way he tells a fascinating and extremely well researched story. A must read for baseball fans and history buffs alike. Thorns depiction of 19th century America, and more specifically New York, is almost as interesting as the baseball history. A very informative and readable book. ( )
  SethAndrew | Sep 7, 2016 |
It starts slowly, but this history of baseball in the nineteenth century is fascinating and very readable. Who knew that Theosophists were instrumental in naming Abner Doubleday the inventor of baseball? or who knew that the first World Series was played in 1884, not 1903? ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
John Thron takes as his point of departure the debunking of the myth that Abner Doubleday, in one fell swoop, invented the American game of baseball. In doing so, he takes us on an exciting tour of nineteenth century baseball. This is a history book just as exciting as Roger Angel's best paeans. Highly recommended for any baseball fan! ( )
  flexatone | Sep 17, 2012 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 10 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Thorn can probably lay claim to knowing more baseball minutiae than any other living human. (With that authority he has often been a source for reporters, myself included.) However, this expertise is, oddly enough, at the heart of the book’s main weakness. Names, dates, places and citations so casually flood these pages that even sophisticated consumers of baseball lit will be in danger of drowning in them.
adicionado por mysterymax | editarThe New York Times, Bruce Weber (Apr 8, 2011)
 
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Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Did baseball even have a father--or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball's preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling, a proxy form of class warfare. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. He shows how the sport's increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. Full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes, this book tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed--all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime.--From publisher description.

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