Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri

Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri

Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri

Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri


The heart of professional baseball, if not its roots, may be found in the American Midwest, especially in Missouri. In "Seasons in the Sun," Roger D. Launius offers an excellent overview of the teams, pennant races, trials, and triumphs of the different major-league teams that have resided in the state over the years.

Since 1876, when St. Louis became a charter member of the newly formed National League, there have also been other major-league franchises from less well known leagues in St. Louis. The St. Louis major-league baseball experience is not limited to the extraordinary success and fame of the Cardinals, who have won more World Series championships than any other National League team. St. Louis also claims the excellent but short-lived Brown Stockings, the city's first entry into the National League; the American League's Browns, who spent most of their existence in the first half of the twentieth century at the bottom of the standings; the virtually forgotten Terriers of the Federal League in 1914-1915; and the Maroons of the pre-twentieth-century National League.

On the other side of the state, Kansas City was home to one of the premier franchises of the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Monarchs. The Monarchs were members of the Negro National League between 1920 and 1931, and won the Negro World Series in 1924 plus a host of league championships thereafter. Independent barnstormers between 1932 and 1936, they were part of the Negro American League from 1937 to1959. In addition, Kansas City hosted the American League's Athletics for thirteen seasons between the team's glory years in Philadelphia and Oakland. The A's departed in 1967, but in 1969 the Royals replaced them as Kansas City's American League entry. The Royals contended for the pennant within three years of their creation, then won a string of division championships in the late 1970s, the American League pennant in 1980, and the World Series against the cross-state Cardinals in 1985.

Major-league baseball has a long and significant history in the state of Missouri, and Launius has done a superb job of telling its story through words and pictures. As the first work to encapsulate this rich history of statewide major-league activities, "Seasons in the Sun" will be welcomed by baseball fans everywhere."


When I first announced that I wanted to write a book about the history of major-league baseball in Missouri, several of my friends and colleagues immediately questioned why I should wish to undertake research and writing on a topic that relates to American leisure. I have been laboring in political and religious history for several years, both of which are viewed as topics significant to understanding Americans. But baseball has not been taken seriously by many as a means of understanding American society. Indeed, some probably questioned my sanity. Others wondered if I, now firmly in middle age, was seeking to reclaim my youth. Those questions may be valid, and certainly there was a time when I dreamed of pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, though I knew I had none of the skills that could make that dream a reality. As a boy, like many others all over this land, I pretended that I was Bob Gibson on the mound in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series. Those recollections motivated me as much as anything to undertake this book.

Let’s face it, I love baseball. I was brought up with it, and I embraced it as something to play or watch at every opportunity. the evolution of the sport also captured my attention early on and continually draws me, a historian, back to the diamonds where players long since gone performed their wizardry. in Missouri, this includes the gentle ghosts of young men wearing the uniforms of Athletics, Browns, Cardinals, Maroons, Monarchs, Royals, Stars, and Unions, haunting us across more than a century. These specters are not at all ghoulish, but rather reminders of pleasant times in a simpler past that tug at us and ask us to come out and play.

Baseball is not about saving lives and making the world a better place. But life as a whole cannot always be about those things. Instead, baseball is a diversion from the more serious aspects of life, an opportunity to return to earlier times and less complex situations. For many, it boils everything down to its essential . . .

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