The best sports writing captures the excitement and immediacy of the game. Middle Innings presents rarely seen and little-known documents that permit readers to share with their predecessors the experience of reading these pieces for the first time. With luck, a reader will get a sense of the world of baseball in the first half of the twentieth century, and the society in which this world flourished.
In these pages we encounter the shock of turn-of-the-century Southern Californians at a successful Japanese baseball team, the profusion of baseball songs, the impact of radio on baseball, and the chill caused by the Black Sox scandal. The impact of Jackie Robinson becomes clear through articles on race, ethnicity, and religion in baseball. These are accompanied by accounts of teams and players in the Negro Leagues, on amateur and semipro clubs, and on college and youth teams, and how these teams were as representative of baseball as the major league clubs.
Due to the richness of the subject matter and the abundance of documents, it was not possible to cover every notable event and player in this era. Middle Innings strives to provide as representative a look at baseball as one volume can. The objective was to cover as many topics as possible, drawing connections and explaining contexts, and to persuade readers that they share more than they realized with their predecessors.
I would like to thank Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) members Bob Bailey and Paul Debono for providing me with documents. Larry Lester, research director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, contributed a document and offered valuable advice. George Russ, curator of the Joyce Sports Research Collection at the University of Notre Dame, helped with documents on the AilAmerican Girls' Professional Baseball League, SABR members Fred Ivor-Campbell, Larry Gerlach, and Jerry Malloy provided encouragement. At the University of Maryland, Nancy Struna (president of the North American Society for Sport History) has taught me more about sports history than I could have imagined, and for this I cannot thank her enough.
The support of my family has been invaluable. In the three years spent preparing this book, on many occasions my spirit needed lifting. My brothers Steve and Jay Sullivan, my sisters Lisa Rodriguez and Laurie Barden, and above all my father, Donald Sullivan, never hesitated to help me when asked, and even when I didn't ask. I hope Middle Innings will serve as partial justification of their faith, and as the basis for an even closer relationship in the future.