The American Game

Walt Whitman may once have said something along the lines of “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.” It can be risky when one relies on movies, in this case Bull Durham, or the internet, for quotations. While the quote doesn’t appear anywhere in Whitman’s writing there is evidence that this is a paraphrase of something he once said. I like the quote, and believe in its sentiment. Baseball is a good thing, and with a long summer weekend ahead, and lots of baseball to be played, I would like to take a look at how the American game is represented in Special Collections.

Special Collections has 37 books with the keyword “baseball” in the catalog record. Half of them are juvenile novels, with titles such as: Changing Base (1868), The Fairport Nine (1880), and Lefty o’ the Big League (1914).

The non-fiction books include: Baseball in Music and Song by Harry Dichter, My Baseball Diary by James T. Farrell, and America’s National Game by Albert Goodwill Spalding. Seven books are about baseball in Cincinnati; four of them focusing on the Seventies, the years of the Big Red Machine. From 1970 to 1976 the Cincinnati Reds won five division championships, four pennants and two World Series.rosebks2036

Ritter Collett’s book, Men of the (Reds) Machine: An Inside Look at Baseball’s Team of the 70’s examines the human side of the men who made up this superteam. Collett was sports editor of the Dayton Journal Herald and had a close relationship with the team.

rosesig2037Pete Rose is baseball’s all-time Major League leader in hits. He played both outfield and infield for the Reds in the Sixties and Seventies and a couple of years in the Eighties. He also managed the Reds team in the Eighties. We have both of Pete Rose’s autobiographies. Our copy of Charlie Hustle is inscribed by Rose.

From Behind the Plate, by Johnny Bench, is a lavishly illustrated book with text written by Bench while he was playing with the Reds. Bench was catcher during the Big Red Machine years and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.johnnyb

Joe Nuxhall: The Life, Legacy and Words of a Cincinnati Icon was published after Nuxhall’s death by the Cincinnati Enquirer. It reflects on the life of the Cincinnati legend. The book is filled with photographs and articles from the Enquirer’s archives, and includes numerous quotes and comments about “the old lefthander.” Joe Nuxhall pitched most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds. After retiring from pitching in 1967 he began broadcasting for the Reds that same year. He retired from broadcasting in 2004.

stockings2033Baseball in Cincinnati: A History by Harry Ellard was originally published in 1907. Our copy is a special reprint by the Ohio Book Store that was prepared for Cincinnati’s 1988 bicentennial. Ellard’s book is a history of the game in Cincinnati, from its introduction (as townball in 1860) up to 1907. His father was prominent in organizing the 1869 Red Stockings and Harry had access to the records his father preserved.

crosleyfield000001Cincinnati’s Crosley Field: The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark traces the history of this beloved park with text and over 150 illustrations and pictures. Crosley Field was home to the Reds from 1912 to 1970. I still remember seeing my first baseball game here in the late 1950’s. Prior to that game I had only heard baseball on the radio. The image at the left was taken during the 1961 World Series.

In our collections we have two books by Walter “Smokey” Alston, who lived in nearby Darrtown. Alston was a Miami graduate who went on to manage the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for twenty-three years. His success as a manager earned him a place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, a rare honor for a manager.alstonsig2030small One of his books, The Complete Baseball Handbook: Strategies and Techniques for Winning by Walter Alston and Don Weiskopf, is a textbook on how to succeed at playing the game of baseball. His other book, A Year at a Time, an autobiography, is inscribed by Alston.

Finally, I want to mention The Golden Voices of Baseball by Miami alum, Ted Patterson. Patterson is perhaps the foremost expert on Sportscasting history. This history of baseball broadcasting has interviews with some of the biggest names in broadcasting history. The book includes two CDs, which contain game calls, reactions, and interviews.

Enjoy your holiday weekend. Watch some baseball. I hope your team wins.

Jim Bricker

Senior Library Technician

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