The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game

Edward Achorn. PublicAffairs, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-61039-260-0
Achorn (Fifty-nine in '84) turns his attention to old-time professional baseball, visiting the nascent days of the American Association, more notably, the American Association that turned baseball into a nationally beloved sport. While the National League packaged the game to the upper-middle-class, the teams of "the Beer and Whiskey Circuit" welcomed everyone. Parks featured alcohol, 25-cent admission, and Sunday games. And the masses loved it. In 1883, the year Achorn recounts, non-top drama accompanied a pennant race. St. Louis Browns owner Chris von der Ahe and manager Ted Sullivan butted heads like George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. The Browns' competitor, the desperate Philadelphia Athletics, signed a pitcher who literally jumped as he threw. Achorn examines the wear and tear of baseball's early days while mixing in profiles of the rascals and renegades whose roles range from the historic (Fleet Walker, who in 1884 became the first African American to play professionally) to the colorful (slugger Pete Browning, who upon hearing that President Garfield had died asked, "What position did he play?"). Overall, this is a comprehensive and entertaining history of baseball's overlooked early years. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-1-61039-377-5
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-61039-261-7
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