Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Level Playing Fields: How the Groundskeeping Murphy Brothers Shaped Baseball Hardcover – April 1, 2007


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$35.44 $2.10

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803211104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803211100
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Peter Morris’s short but masterly Level Playing Fields: How the Groundskeeping Murphy Brothers Shaped Baseball looks at the development of professional baseball and, indeed, at Americans’ changing image of their society, from a much-neglected angle, that of the material conditions of play. The careers of Tom and John Murphy were pivotal. . . . This book is packed with insight and telling detail on both baseball and the American temper.”—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe
(Boston Globe )

"Maverick baseball historian Morris here gets down to fundamentals that most histories overlook: the dirt and the grass. We learn how significant aspects of the game's evolution can be traced far back to practical decisions made by Irish immigrants Tom and Jack Murphy. These men knew the likes of Connie Mack, Honus Wagner, and Ty Cobb, and their own contributions (which included pitching mounds and spring training camps) were just as influential. Morris's research and insights rescue these pioneer men from obscurity."—Library Journal
(Library Journal )

“[A]n absolutely engrossing story. . . . You have to hand it to Morris for making such a prosaic subject come alive into such a fascinating story, but that's exactly what he accomplishes here.”—Dan Danbom, Time Out For Entertainment
(Dan Danbom Time Out for Entertainment (Denver, CO) 20070618)

“If you’re the kind of guy who watches the Fenway Park grounds crew for lawn mowing tips, here’s your summer reading. Most baseball fans are aware that grounds crews have long impacted the game by tailoring the fields to suit the home team, but this book goes beyond that, into the origins of the baseball diamond and the art of groundskeeping.”—Boston Baseball
(Boston Baseball 20070618)

“Robert Morris’s fascinating, compact text examines an underappreciated aspect of our national pastime: the playing field. . . . One may not always agree with the author’s assumptions about land use, but his arguments will have you thinking outside the diamond.”—New England Quarterly
(New England Quarterly 20080403)

Level Playing Fields is a superb, richly layered and highly readable biographical study of two unsung, pioneering groundskeepers whose contributions forever transformed our National Pastime. Peter Morris again justifies his reputation as a master baseball historian.”—David Block, author of Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game
(David Block 20061101)

“Peter Morris has accomplished a truly remarkable feat in that he has given us a fresh and invigorating way of understanding the evolution of baseball and the ballparks in which the game is played. Level Playing Fields is a gem at every level—well-written, insightful, and meticulously researched—and, once again, reminds us that Peter Morris is an All-Star baseball historian.”—Paul Dickson, author of The Hidden Language of Baseball
(Paul Dickson 20061026)

“Few baseball authors chart new territory as often as Peter Morris. With Level Playing Fields, Morris has done it yet again. Morris unearths a rich, intriguing tale. This is a fascinating exploration of the roots of groundskeeping and the contributions of the feisty Murphy brothers. It's another winner for Morris—and for all who savor early baseball history.”—Tom Stanton, author of The Final Season and Ty & The Babe
(Tom Stanton 20060929)

About the Author

Peter Morris is the author of Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan and the two-volume Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on April 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A number of years ago I remember reading the following lines:

Sometimes a team to triumph mounts

When a baseball takes a lucky bounce.

Before you credit fortunes wiles

Ponder first the groundcrews' smiles.

To be sure this is certainly a different type of baseball book. I remember reading Fred Lieb's account of the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890's of John McGraw, Willie Keeler, Hughey Jennings, and other colorful characters that made up this team, and now author Peter Morris has expanded on this team by including their legendary groundskeeper Tom Murphy. It was Tom who slanted the baselines to make sure that bunts remained in fair territory, and who sprinkled soap chips around the pitcher's mound so enemy hurlers wouldn't be able to properly grip a baseball. What eventually became of Tom we don't know, but he did take a baseball bat to Connie Mack's brother Dennis's head. He skipped bail and the following summmer Connie recognized him on a street in St. Louis. Murphy was arrested, tried and convicted of assault and spent nearly three years in prison. Brother John Murphy spent a number of years as groundskeeper at the Polo Grounds, the storied home of the New York Giants. John was hired by Giants' owner John T. Brush who was familiar with Murphy from their days together in Indianapolis. The early steel and concrete ballparks often had their own personality and quirks as the park had to be built in the shape of land that was available for sale. Hence, the bathtub shape of the Polo Grounds, also known as the Horseshoe on the Harlem. The book also includes the New York Highlanders' efforts to gain a foothold in New York at the turn of the 20th century.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By weston on February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book. I maintain athletics fields for a living so it was a great read for me.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David on October 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a quick read, but fascinating for those baseball fans interested in the early history of the sport. The varied playing surfaces created strong home-field advantages and led to the formation of specific ground rules for specific parks. Besides the difficulties of finding decent playing fields for teams in the cities, the author focuses on the troubles with having infields of grass, finding a flood-free zone to play, and avoiding outfield obstacles such as tree stumps...all these things precipitated the need for quality groundskeepers.

The secondary story about the Murphy brothers was probably the weakness of the book, as many times the author stated how uncertain their known history was. But it's still a good read for the old-time baseball fan.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search