On one level, Spalding has penned a comprehensive early history of the game, much of it actually reliable. On a second, deeper level, America's National Game, first published in 1911, survives as his testament, the gospel not just according to Albert, but according to how he suggests his own enormous contributions be remembered. Spalding was a true believer: "To enter upon a deliberate argument to prove that Base Ball is our National Game; that it has all the attributes of American origin, American character and unbounded public favor in America, seems a work of supererogation. It is to undertake the elucidation of patent fact; the sober demonstration of an axiom; it is like a solemn declaration that two plus two equals four."
If the numbers don't always add up--Spalding takes full credit for saving baseball and America from gamblers and drunks by helping found the National League in 1876 and then breaking the precursor of the first players' union 14 years later--there is much to recommend in this preservation of an opinionated man's convictions and vivid memory. This was a tremendously important book when it first appeared. Almost a century later, it continues to stand on its bully pulpit as it opens a fascinating, if not always reliable, window into the past. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.