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The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City
by Kevin Baker
A hugely entertaining history of baseball and New York City, bursting with larger-than-life figures and fascinating stories from the game’s beginnings to the end of World War II. Baseball is “the New York game” because New York is where the diamond was first laid out, where the bunt and the curveball were invented, and where the home run was hit. It’s where the game’s first stars were born, and where everyone came to play or watch the game.
With nuance and depth, historian Kevin Baker brings this all vividly back to life: the still-controversial, indelible moments—Did the Babe call his shot? Was Merkle out? Did they fix the 1919 World Series? Here are all the legendary players, managers, and owners, in all their vivid, complicated humanity, on and off the field. In Baker’s hands the city and the game emerge from the murk of nineteenth-century American life—driven by visionaries and fixers, heroes and gangsters. He details how New York and its favorite sport came to mirror one another, expanding, bumbling through catastrophe and corruption, and rising out of these trials stronger than ever.
From the first innings played in vacant lots and tavern yards in the 1820s; to the canny innovations that created the very first sports league; to the superb Hispanic and Black players who invented their own version of the game when white baseball sought to exclude them. And all amidst New York’s own, incredible evolution from a raw, riotous town to a new world city. The New York Game is a riveting, rollicking, brilliant ode to America’s beloved pastime and to its indomitable city of origin.
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