More Than Merkle: A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History

By David W. Anderson | Go to book overview

Bibliographic Essay

Historic research leaves the author dependent upon the works of others to a large extent. Assessing sources and confirming the information they conveyed was a constant process in preparing this book. Here is an evaluation of some of the sources consulted for More than Merkle.

Any study of 1908 should include detailed reading of G. H. Fleming's Unforgettable Season ( New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981). It inspired me to write this book. Fleming's work remains an important contribution to the body of baseball history, and it is an excellent study of sports journalism of its day.

William J. Slocum's 1951 interviews with Bill Klem in Collier's Magazine are also invaluable. Klem's career spanned several decades, and this series of interviews provides much insight into umpires and umpiring.

Two books also provide detail on the Dead Ball Era. Johnny Evers's Touching Second (with Hugh Fullerton; Chicago: Reilly and Britton Company, 1910) is as good a baseball book as any written in the twentieth century. The eyewitness insights are illuminating but require scrutiny. The title did not refer to Fred Merkle, though some have believed it did and have therefore dismissed the book. However, Evers discusses this incident of 1908 only briefly. His analysis of the Dead Ball game deserves attention. Evers was an excellent player with an outstanding mind for the game. The other work is Billy Evans's Umpiring from the Inside (n.p., 1947). It is as good an umpire's manual as any I have seen. A pioneer umpire, Evans pays homage to his colleagues and provides a valuable source for major league umpiring.

Memoirs by figures of the time were helpful, but as is the case with all memoirs, they must be used with caution. Historians know that memoirs are useful tools, but often they reveal as much in what they don't say as in what they do include. The ghostwritten memoirs of John McGraw ( My Thirty Years in Baseball [ New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995]) and Christy Mathewson ( Pitching in a Pinch [ New York: Putnam, 1912; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994]) are above average for the genre but, as in the case of Touching Second, require verification from independent sources.

Sporting Life, a weekly newspaper that covered baseball during the Dead Ball Era, receives little respect from some researchers. Because it also covered billiards and skeet, some believe it neglected baseball. It did not. It was a worthy competitor of the Sporting News. Sporting Life contains a mother lode of information for researchers. Part of the reason for its neglect is that Sporting Life ceased publication before the Lively Ball Era, while Sporting News continued.

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More Than Merkle: A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • More Than Merkle *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Tables *
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1 - Baseball Turned Upside Down the 1906 World Series 1
  • 2 - The Game in 1908 Dead Ball Era Baseball 10
  • 3 - The Teams of 1908 a Look at the Players 35
  • 4 - The Men in Blue the Umpires of 1908 87
  • 5 - April the Best Hopes of Fans 105
  • 6 - May the Makings of a Pennant Race 115
  • 7 - June the Race is On 127
  • 8 - July Gain the Edge 137
  • 9 - August the Storm Clouds Gather 150
  • 10 - September All Hell Breaks Loose 164
  • 11 - October Down to the Wire 184
  • 12 - Scandals of 1908 Delayed Reckoning 210
  • Appendixes - The Record of 1908 225
  • Notes 241
  • Bibliographic Essay 251
  • Index 255
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