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Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Game (Modern Library Chronicles #25)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  285 ratings  ·  48 reviews
“Football is force and fanatics, basketball is beauty and bounce. Baseball is everything: action, grace, the seasons of our lives. George Vecsey’s book proves it, without wasting a word.”
–Lee Eisenberg, author of The Number

In Baseball, one of the great bards of America’s Grand Old Game gives a rousing account of the sport, from its pre-Republic roots to the present day. Ge
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Modern Library
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I picked up this book because I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Wed and wanted to be absolutely insufferable with facts about the game. (Book or not, I knew I'd be insufferable at the Hall -- at least with a little pre-reading, at least I could be informed...)

I wanted to read Cooperstown Confidential, but the library didn't have a copy available, and I wasn't up for $25 for a hardback copy. So...I found this brief history of 150 years of baseball in America written by NYTimes
Sue Silverman
This was an o.k. introduction for someone who's interested in baseball, but doesn't know anything about its history. But I imagine most hard-core baseball people already knew much of what was in here. Really, I feel like I could have written this if I had a few weeks or months to spend in libraries to do the research - not too many little-known anecdotes or interviews with players to make this a truly fascinating read. But I don't have a few weeks to spend in libraries and I did want a basic his ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though it's a bit scattered in it's approach. Of course, considering Vescey is trying to hit the highlights of roughly 130 years of baseball history I'd say he did a pretty specatular job taking the subject on. He's been a sports writer for the NY Times since the 50's, which no doubt helped him decide which things to touch on, and he manages to avoid telling the same old legendary tales of Ruth, Mantle, and Robinson that often find themselves being re-hashed in ba ...more
George Vecsey's Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Pastime is a broad and beautifully written look at the 150+ years of baseball.

It can give the impression of skipping around simply because of the breadth of the subject Vecsey is trying to cover. Its chapters are best taken on their own. If they whet your appetite for more, pick up a more comprehensive study (Koppett's Concise History would be the best I could recommend). What Vecsey excels in here, though, is the human touch and detail
Brian Eshleman
This book was a nice companion to Ken Burns's Baseball series, which I recently watched. The author uses some of the same illustrations of baseball's changes and highlights some of the same personalities. This text provides something like a 30,000 foot view that doesn't get too bogged down in details.
Jennifer Didik

A fairly quick read that provides for a slightly cursory history of the game. Props for not resorting to the cliche of breaking the story up into nine chapters - this one does indeed have twenty, including, "Why the Yankees Exist." Could've easily done without the inserted opinions which highlight the author's age ("the god-awful din of the modern sound system" and he also hates on the portrayal of baseball in Hollywood, "corny or downright inaccurate" and yet he doesn't bother to avoid attri
Glyn Longden
Rating: 7/10. From being a small boy I was a baseball fan; over the years I have read nearly all the masterpieces of the game by Boswell, Gould, Halberstam, and many, many others. Great baseball writing always depicts the game as a metaphor for life ( "Why Time Begins on Opening Day") and through most of my life I have willingly accepted that pleasant thought.

Very early in Vecsey's book on the history of baseball, he declares:

"I could get mawkish and declare that the sport has gone to hell becau
Paul Frandano
Frankly, I don't understand how anyone who professes to love baseball and love good writing can give George Vecsey's little gem of a book less than five stars. I know: taste is taste, etc., but yeah, I've been reading baseball books for 60 years too, and Vecsey didn't mention a name I didn't know, but he picks his spots - in effect, topics for short essays - with such wisdom, and writes these essential junctures of the game up so colorfully and so concisely that, I'd have to say, this book packs ...more
Sam-0 Finley
This truly was a History of America's Favorite Game. Vecsey goes in depth into every facet of the game. From the history of baseball to individual testimonies of those who played and continue to play Baseball.

The book is a random collection of allegories and analysis of the game and some of its greats, including Pete Rose and the negro league great, Josh Gibson. He skips some of the better known baseball stories to tell more of the "hidden history". He also avoids becoming a stat comparison boo
Jason Speck
George Vecsey's Baseball is part of the Modern Library Chronicles series, wherein each volume is intended to be a short (150-200 pages) introduction to a particular historical subject. In this way the Chronicles series mirrors Oxford University Press' Very Short Introductions series, which covers similar topics. Vecsey admirably covers as much ground as can be expected in a book of this length, and the result is a real treat for baseball fans.

Anyone writing a short volume for a subject as expans
This brief summary of baseball’s past is better than you might think, proving – yet again – that history does not have to be tiresome or humorless. It is organized more by topic than chronology, including the sport’s early days in the 1800s, the World Series, free agency, the Golden Age, management, and the Negro Leagues. Of particular interest were the pages that revisited a host of baseball scandals and other dark moments, such as recreational drugs, labor disputes, gambling, segregation, Blac ...more
I was looking forward to reading this book. However, I did not really enjoy the book. It seemed as if Vecsey took a series of feature stories written over a long period of time and tried to cobble them together. The book was only a couple hundred pages but he retold the same stories over and over again. The book jumped around too much and never felt as if it was properly pulled together. It needed a good editor or a least a good outline.
There's a lot of interesting information in here for someone seeking a quick and dirty overview of the history of baseball. The structure is somewhat disorganized, however, and the book is sometimes repetitive and other times leaves out large chunks of information. All told, it reads like a selection of essays about the author's favorite (and least favorite) aspects of baseball history. Interesting, but not as good as it could have been.
It was okay. Didn't love the kind of jaded tone to a lot of it. There seemed to be a lot of personal pet-peeves mixed in among the traditional history highlights. I appreciated it had more to say about the 70's on than other things I've read and watched.
George Vecsey, a long-time NY Times writer, brings vibrant storytelling to the national pastime in collecting the history of the game. Vecsey starts are the dawn of baseball and brings the reader to present day, intertwining baseball's past with relevant concurrent American and world events. Special chapters are devoted to topics like the Babe, racism and Jackie Robinson, and even labor unions. Vecsey is clearly a traditionalist part of the old guard, generously offering snide comments about fla ...more
John Hiller
This was a really good read. It outlines the "nuts and bolts" of the history of baseball without going into too much detail on any given topic. As an avid baseball fan, I sometimes felt that Vecsey was writing for readers that never heard of the game. Other books can go into the details of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and the integration of blacks in MLB, free agency, steroids and PHD's, and other such topics...but Vecsey lays out a great outline upon which to apply my past and future reading of t ...more
This is a nice primer on baseball history. It's brief, so it skims over a lot, but it is still informative and well written. It probably doesn't have much to offer experts, but a good book for the young baseball history initiate.
Overall a good introduction to the history of baseball- but a very hard topic to do a really in depth job in just over 200 pages. The author also added a lot of personal stories, which, depending on what youre looking for, might add or detract from the book (I do realize baseball is a lot about stories but personally would have preferred a bit more objective). Personally found the section about the origins of baseball up to about 1945 the most interesting as I was less familiar with this part of ...more
Timothy Linfield
Since this book was about baseball, and the history behind it, it meant that i really enjoyed this book. I think that anything that has to do with sports i enjoy reading, so that is a main reason why i enjoyed this book. I felt that i enjoyed the book alot and i learned alot about baseball that i didnt know already. Out of 10 i would give this book a 7.75, only because i felt like there could have been more illistrations to give a better understanding to the reader
I tried to make this book last, lingering over its digest history of my favorite game.

My favorite line, in a chapter discussing the DH: "Trying to be fair and neutral about it, I can only say that the designated hitter rule is a travesty, and ought to be tossed out."

I wish that an updated edition could've been printed to include the 2010 Giants in the chapter on "October Exorcisms."

Oh, and that the book was about four times longer...
This is definitely in the good, not great category. Vecsey, a writer for the NY Times, spins baseball stories from the beginning up to the present. But... there wasn't a lot of new stuff here in a rather slim book. It draws nice connections between some points, but it skims most everything and thus doesn't do anything all that well. A nice foray for an emerging baseball fan, but go elsewhere for really good work.
There is way too much material to cover in under 300 pages; thus, it barely touches the history of baseball. What Vecsey presents is useful and entertaining, however it is limited to what his interests in the history of the game are. A bit heavy in some topics, I thought, and other topics not covered at all. I recommend it, but not if you are looking for a single volume to provide good coverage.
I finished this great book just in time for Opening Day! I love the spring...and I loved this book. Each chapter reads like its own mini history on one aspect of the game. Full of insights, anecdotes, and fabulous trivia, this book is for those of us who love America's favorite game as much as the author clearly does. Thank you, Daddy, for passing down the passionate baseball gene. Let's play two!
An enjoyable, casual history of baseball. Vecsey's annals are at times slightly embellished and always stock full of passion and stubborn opinions, and, throughout, he's willing to indulge the myths, superstitions, and recurring themes that make baseball such a quirky sport full of lore, scandal, and grace. In other words, Vecsey is just as a baseball lover/historian should be.
I was a bit put off by the few pages of this one. The first chapter recounted a lot of Stan Musial stories Vecsey later used in his biography of Stan the Man. I was concerned that this book would be little more than a preface to his Musial opus. But he eventually broke from his Musial obsession and provided a condensed, but thorough history of America's greatest game.

Vecsey rocketed to the front of my list of newspaper columnists to read after being given this book. His words easily elicit a nostalgia for the game, making it the gleaming, ideal form we think of fondly. Not only that, but his own experience in watching the game--both as fan and as reporter--bring life to baseball's past with a clarity that makes it real.
Nov 26, 2011 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: sports
George Vecsey writes very well, but I found his choice of topics included to be a bit boring. It was focused on how baseball developed, scandals faced, etcetera, with not enough about the eras, players and rivalries.

I will try other books of his, as I enjoyed his book about Stan Musial.
Sierra Dean
Excellent history book at slows down slightly towards the end. For those not willing to sit through the 18+ hours of Ken Burns's Baseball documentary, this is a great book option that covers the history of the game from its early roots up to the scandals of the 90s.
Great book for baseball fans. I was worried it would be a book chock full of stats but the author intermingled interesting stories along with those stats and had the ability to weave the past with the present in a number of ways proving that baseball is timeless.
Great overview of the game that reinforces how baseball reflects the cultural issues of the United States. I liked reading about heroes of the game from an adult perspective, and learning about the Anti-semitism, racism, labor disputes, and sheer joy of play.
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