A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters & the Battle for the 1897 Pennant

Bill Felber, Author, Edward M. Kennedy, Foreword by , foreword by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Univ. of Nebraska $24.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1136-0

Labor disputes, prolonged contract holdouts and widespread suggestions of cheating—Felber's account of the national pastime isn't a telling of current events but of the 1897 pennant race between the Boston Beaneaters and Baltimore Orioles. Stark contrasts in philosophy and team makeup create the best rivalries, and Felber, executive editor of the Manhattan Mercury in Kansas, excels at demonstrating the dissimilarities between these two evenly matched opponents. As Felber points out, Boston's team had ruled the early part of the decade with clean play that “mirrored the city's puritanical approach to life,” while the Orioles, representing less genteel Baltimore, had won the last three league championships thanks in part to their “ungentlemanly methods” and “roughhouse tactics.” As the two teams battle for the pennant up until the last week of the season, Felber gives a spirited retelling of the season, giving life to greedy owners, rabid fans, drunken ballplayers and terrorized umpires, all the while bringing to life an era of baseball when home runs were a rarity, players fielded with no gloves and starting pitchers threw almost 400 innings a season. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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