Academic journal article Base Ball

Editor's Note

Academic journal article Base Ball

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

And now we are three-volumes, that is-not altogether surefooted yet no longer toddlers. When we launched Base Ball in the spring of 2007 we took as our purview, rather grandly, the banks of the Nile to the age of the Bambino. To date we have attracted wonderful articles, sometimes truly groundbreaking ones, from the mid-18th century to the onset of those words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: the modern era.

Now that we are beyond the stage of short pants, this seems a propitious moment to stake out an additional claim to manifest destiny and historical exceptionalism. We will wish to make this journal a home for scholars whose interests and aspirations are not limited by, in F. Scott Fitzgerald's phrase, "the diameter of Frank Chance's diamond." By raising this gonfalon we do not wish to exclude or even deter submission of microscopically focused views of players, clubs, leagues, seasons, or even single games. It would be fantastic, for example, to receive a minutely detailed treatment of Game 6 of the 1889 World Series in the manner of G.H. Fleming's recording of the Merkle Boner game of September 23, 1908.

But let us draw the reader's attention back to the present number, in particular to some unusual approaches to the writing of baseball history. By studiously averting their gaze from the action on the field or in the front office, three first-time contributors- Randall Brown, Monica Nucciarone, and Don Jensen-manage to contextualize the game in a way that expands our understanding of baseball and of the nation whose pastime it is.

Brown's "Blood and Base Ball" is a rambling examination of race and class warfare fought sometimes on the baseball grounds but most often on other, more perilous fields. Nucciarone's "Sowing Johnny Appleseeds of Doubt" takes us on the gold-rush trail with Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., and along the way raises so many doubts about his role in spreading (or inventing) baseball that one is put in mind of the Da Vinci Code. Jensen looks to the stands for his subject, finding in restaurateur Nick Engel of the New York Tenderloin "Home Plate" an emblematic figure for the Baseball Fans' Hall of Fame. The game of baseball is at all points present in these articles, but hides behind the arras, popping into full view only now and then to speak to a larger point about our people's intense attachment to this great game, so awash in nostalgia yet rich with promise. …

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