Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948

By Dean A. Sullivan | Go to book overview

2
Baseball and Early-Twentieth-Century
Popular Culture

Tremendous growth in the number of baseball teams, and in the game's popularity, paralleled the growth of the coverage of baseball in the media. Fans demanded not only information about the day-to-day details of their local teams and leagues, but also more feature articles which the daily newspapers often could not provide. In addition, they saw baseball as a fit subject for poems, vaudeville, and the new medium of the recorded song, as well as humor by writers like Finley Peter Doone and Ring Lardner. One publication that sought to slake the thirst for baseball knowledge was Baseball Magazine, which debuted in 1908 and is considered by some to be among the finest sports periodicals of the century. A young sportswriter named Grantland Rice earned national attention for the verses that preceded every column he wrote. His poems and syndicated columns appeared in sports pages that, since their emergence in the mid-1880s, had evolved into separate sections offering more information than ever before. Even ballplayers (with the help of ghost writers) published their own views on the game, hired by newspapers involved in circulation wars with their many rivals. Baseball had entered the American mainstream.


16 Cubs Protest Precursor of “Merkle Blunder” (1908)

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post, September 5, 1908

The most celebrated play in baseball history, the “Merkle blunder,” had its roots in a
similar play in a game nearly three weeks earlier. On September 4 the Chicago Cubs and

-35-

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Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - A New Century Dawns 1
  • 2 - Baseball and Early-Twentieth-Century Popular Culture 35
  • 3 - Rumblings of Unrest 63
  • 4 - The Age of Ruth 91
  • 5 - Lights, Action, History 139
  • 6 - Baseball in Wartime and Peacetime 181
  • Bibliography 221
  • Acknowledgments 225
  • Index 227
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