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Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Game

(Modern Library Chronicles #25)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  570 ratings  ·  79 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.
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published (first published August 15th 2006)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response
I liked the book Baseball . Baseball is one of my three favorite sports, but it is the one I know least about. I don't know much about the old time players of baseball or how the game started. This book covers lots of pre-21st century baseball. It talks about who created the game, the Negro Leagues, and the steroid age. The book did get a little dull to me at times, especially when I had been reading for a while. It also talks about baseball during both World Wars and the
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I've just started this book. So far, he comes across as another bitter old man who thinks everything reached perfection in the 50's. I'll still give it a go because I love the game. We'll see what happens....
Kathy McC
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Vecsey is to be commended on his thorough research and a writing style that made all of the dates and places more narrative than encyclopedic.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a beautifully written, idiosyncratic history of baseball. For the knowledgeable fan (me), most of it is familiar: the origins in rounders and the fake origins attribute to Abner Doubleday, the emergence of Babe Ruth, the exclusion of black players and then the triumphant entry of Jackie Robinson, the advent of free agency in the 1970s and growth of money and commercialism, and the steroid scandal. Vecsey skips through these issues quickly and accurately, and he gives a good sense of how ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2006 entry in the Modern Library Chronicles series. So it is a bit dated by this time. I used to read a baseball book every year at the beginning of the season, but have not done so in quite some time now. So when this was on sale at amazon for your kindle, I grabbed it - and quickly read it. 150 years (more or less) of baseball history in @225 pp. Decent bibliography, but it seems like lots of his facts came from a handful of titles (casual "Notes" at the back of the volume).
Vecsey is an old
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: main
A fun, crisp history of the best sport in the world. Vecsey writes very much like a journalist (gee I wonder why) which takes a bit of getting used to, but ultimately I found his style to be very humorous and fulfilling. It's probably best to go into this book already possessing at least a basic knowledge of baseball history, since he makes a lot of references that new students of the game might not understand (or might pause to google). All in all, though, it's a nice, concise history that hits ...more
John Pitcock
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the time I was a youngster until now (age 71), baseball has been woven into my life. From Mickey Mantle to Chipper Jones. From the NY Yankees to the Atlanta Braves to the Tampa Bay Rays. From highs to lows. Through drug tainted records to amazing experiences. No matter my personal affinity to the sport, this is a good book on its history and evolution. If you enjoy baseball, you’ll enjoy this book.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
book was recommended and give to me by Mom. had to stop and start it several times because of one thing or another. Really enjoyed reading it and learned so much about the history of baseball. also enjoyed the little things Vecsey added about current times. well written documentary on baseball that held my attention! I gave it 4 cause I'm a baseball fan, if not reader might not enjoy it as much.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
A great little book with everything that there is to know about Baseball,Baseball scandals,baseball trading of the players and Baseball anectotes . A must read for someone that knows already about the game but also to someone who wants to know a little bit more.
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A breezy history of professional baseball in North America in an op-ed style. The documentation is obscured in a manner I find unhelpful. The author's biases color the account -- anti-DH, pro-National League, etc. OK, but limited.
Chuck Abdella
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great little book about the history of baseball! At times, the prose is beautiful and the subject majestic. Highly recommended.
Van Til
Some good baseball stories mixed with some really grating and elitist progressive talking points. 2.5 stars, rounded up to three because baseball.
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A condensed version of major events in the history of baseball
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, owned
Unorganized, not well researched, and highly subjective.
Madame Jane
Covers the history of baseball with key moments and people who made the game great.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read on the history of baseball! Full of anecdotes and stories, it details the origins of the sport and the events that shaped its status in modern America.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well done!

Vecsey provides a well written and insightful history of America's Game. Takes one from the ancient origins through the highs and lows of our great American pastime.
Tom Maddox
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good read

You can't really go wrong with a book on baseball. The author covered most major events within the pages. I enjoyed reading this book
Jason Speck
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Laferney
New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey’s Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game (Modern Library, 2008) is a concise and idiosyncratic history of the game of professional baseball. His brief survey avoids the nine-ending cliché of many introductory baseball history books in favor of a more topical analysis of professional baseball’s pasttime. Vecsey gives us a breezy twenty-chapter background narrative of the game and a crisp vision of America’s go-getting spirit.

Vescey surveys the
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
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
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this from the library on my phone (still weird) because of spring and baseball, but also because I was hoping it would be a little more transnational than it turned out to be. I'm mulling over a class I think I could teach (at some point in the future) that would be a sort of continental history of sports - and baseball, even though we think of it as America's game, it was already in Canada and Cuba, pretty much fully formed, by the time the professional leagues were forming in the ...more
Brian Finch
The first half of this book is amazing. It is what I was looking for, which is a look into the hallowed past of baseball. Unfortunately, the second half looses focus and meanders about in more modern Era scandals. I would have prefered a deeper examination of the historical aspects rather spending so much time on steroids use.
Sam-0 Finley
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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“In August of 1921, one of the great American combinations was unveiled—even better than the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This fortuitous new blend was radio and baseball.” 1 likes
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