Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Lawrence Baldassaro, Univ. of Nebraska, $34.95 (520p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1705-8
In this informative and entertaining book, Baldassaro, professor emeritus of Italian at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, explores the role Italian-Americans have played in America's pastime. He offers a straightforward "chronological history of the evolution of Italian Americans in professional baseball" from Ed Abbaticchio, who made his debut in 1897, to such recent players as Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio. Baldassaro does a nice job going beyond recapping careers and doling out statistics by exploring deeper topics like the circumstances that made Northern California (birthplace of the DiMaggios) a hotbed of Italian-American hardball talent. He analyzes such sociopolitical factors as how discrimination and family obligations limited the number of Italian players in the first third of the 20th century, and how the changing perceptions of Italian-Americans led to a postwar book of ballplayers whose last names ended in vowels. Baldassaro brings a great deal of affection and merriment to his storytelling—whether he is replaying Cookie Lavagetto's and Al Gionfriddo's exploits in the 1947 World Series or exploring the sporting and cultural significance of Joe DiMaggio. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/10/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Open Ebook - 517 pages - 978-0-8032-3467-3
Paperback - 472 pages - 978-0-8032-4620-1
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