"It is said in folklore circles that when a custom is too old for its origins to be remembered, a story is often devised to rationalize what would otherwise be baffling," writes noted baseball historian Thorn (Total Baseball). "Such has been the case with baseball." Thorn strives to set the record straight. Among his innumerable revelations are that gambling actually legitimized the game, and that baseball's presence in America dates back to at least 1791 in Pittsfield, Mass. Long believed to be the founding fathers of baseball, Alexander Joy Cartwright and Abner Doubleday were the tools of "those who wanted to establish baseball as the product of an identifiable spark of American ingenuity." Thorn has done an admirable job in uncovering the truths and fossils of baseball's foggy prehistoric era, but the book is so dense with key figures and historical minutiae (the book spans from ancient Egypt to the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939) that it becomes plodding. With the help of an index and a highlighter, baseball lovers will savor the book as reference material. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
It is a well-known absurdity by now that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY. John Thorn brings a scholar's approach and an archeological researcher's depth to the topic of who really invented both the game and its official history, as well as when, how--and perhaps, most importantly because most often overlooked--why. Baseball had many antecedents in American, British, and even earlier history (George Washington is recorded as playing a game … more