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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball as America, because Baseball is America
I must start with the disclaimer: I am an unabashed fan of Baseball. To some of us, there is so much about Baseball which parallels the growth and development of our country. Jules Tygiel does an admirable job of linking some of Baseball's magic moments with the spirit of the times, and interweaves the two in a fascinating piece of work.
The history of some of...
Published on May 14, 2000 by Eric V. Moye

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dry and plodding
Very disappointing. Unless (maybe) you are a real history buff, find another baseball book. The print quality is also poor.
Published 17 months ago by notkidding


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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball as America, because Baseball is America, May 14, 2000
By 
Eric V. Moye (New York, by way of Dallas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I must start with the disclaimer: I am an unabashed fan of Baseball. To some of us, there is so much about Baseball which parallels the growth and development of our country. Jules Tygiel does an admirable job of linking some of Baseball's magic moments with the spirit of the times, and interweaves the two in a fascinating piece of work.
The history of some of the early magnates of the game (Comiskey, Mack and McGraw) parallels some of the other early captains of industry, and understanding how they did what they did explains much of how we have moved from agrarian society to industrial capitalism. The segregation of the Negro Leagues and the ultimate integration of the game are richly explored, set with the backdrop of the issue of race in America.
"The Shot Heard Round The World" was certainly one of the games greatest moments. But I had never thought of it in terms of the "post-war pre-eminence" (some, including the author might instead say the "arrogance") of America, and the place of New York as the center of the world (I guess the moniker "Mediteranian" had been already taken several centuries prior).
Easy reading. A great gift for those who have an interest in the game which goes deeper than what can be found in tomorrow morning's box scores.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over, Herodotus, July 3, 2008
By 
Giordano Bruno (Here, There, and Everywhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
Jules Tygiel, one of America's finest historians and citizens, died the day before yesterday, July 1 2008, after a three year tussle with cancer. He was a good friend; his son and mine were high school classmates, and had played against each other in Little League baseball. Jules and I were third-base coaches for their opposite teams. Jules taught history at San Francisco State University from 1978 until this year, doing the labor of Sisyphus to maintain intellectual excitement at that wounded school, which was so exciting when he started there but which was dampered and hampered by its Republican political foes. Jules's two historical concentrations were the social history of baseball and the social/economic history of America in the 1920s. His graduate seminar in the latter was described to me again and again as the most exciting history class at SFSU.

Jules wrote a concise, even-handed biography of Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan and the Triumph of American Conservatism - a book that acknowledges Reagan's political skills yet clearly depicts the inconsistencies and shortcomings of his two terms as president. Jules also wrote "The Great Los Angeles Swindle: Oil, Stocks and Scandal During the Roaring Twenties," but his most widely-read books were about baseball, which he loved not only as a sport but as an aspect of America's better nature. Born in Brooklyn in 1949, Jules grew up a passionate Dodgers fan; ironically, he spent most of his career living within a few minutes of the SF Giants ballparks.

Jules first published "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy" in 1983. That book has been reprinted consistently, awarded the Robert F Kennedy Book Award, and acclaimed by Sports Illustrated Magazine as one of the top 50 sports books of all time, yet it's hardly about baseball as a sport at all. It's a history of Jim Crow discrimination, and of the foresight and courage of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson in defying America's inveterate racism. Jules rightly considered the integration of baseball one of the defining and enabling acts of civil rights history. Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, an African American, has called this book his favorite ever about Robinson, and said Tygiel's book "showed us exactly how we got to where we were."

"Past Time: Baseball as History" is a broader study of American society as perceived through the lens of our national pastime. It looks at racial divides, of course, but it also examines the American fascination with statistics and efficiency, at the evolving class structure of America, at urbanization as evidenced by professional sports, at the transportation and marketing revolutions that accompanied the rise of professional sports, and at the psychology of a nation of "good sports." It's a deep and original book, this "Past Time," and one that I would put first on my reading list if I were a professor of history at any level.

If the USA appreciated its intellectual heroes as much as its military, the Major Leagues would declare a moment of silence at every baseball park in America this Fourth of July, and Jules would be buried with honors under third base at Dodgers stadium.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate baseball history -- emphasis on the "history", May 5, 2000
In the nine essays comprising this volume, historian Jules Tygiel demonstrates his mastery of 150 years of baseball history. But rather than attempt a comprehensive treatment of the topic, he focuses on key issues which often slip through the cracks of broader histories and biographies: the evolution of baseball statistics, the men whose personalities dictated the evolution of the game from 1900-20, the effect of mass media on the game and its fans, the rise of fantasy games and adult fantasy camps in recent decades.
This shouldn't be the first baseball history book in your library. If you have a shelf-ful of books on the topic, though, "Past Time" should be among them. No matter how many you've read, you'll learn something new here.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars provocative, enjoyable synthesis of baseball and history, May 15, 2001
By 
This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
When Professory Jules Tygiel presented his authoritative analysis of Jackie Robinson in "Baseball's Great Experiment," he gave notice that writing about baseball could not only reflect history but provide lovers of the "national game" a sense of how baseball reflected and influenced the society in which they live. His most recent effort, "Past Time," is a splendid integration of baseball and the dominant social and economic themes resonating around and through the sport. Written in nine chapters, each representing an inning/era in baseball's past, Professor Tygiel explores numerous athletic and historical themes in a beautifully written and thoroughly researched volume. It belongs not only on shelves of those, like me, who love the sport, but those, like me, who believe that imaginative and provocative histories can help assist all of us in understanding who we are and how we became the way we are.
Readers could enjoy this volume by selecting any one of the chapters; although the work is presented chronologically, Professor Tygiel offers each "inning" as its own entity. The meticulous research that entered into his writing (the book has some twenty pages of footnotes) weaves seamlessly into truly graceful writing. As he would say of DiMaggio, "he makes it look easy." There are trenchant observations on baseball as business, on the place of a ballclub in a city's self-definition and how the media has enhanced and democratized the sport.
I especially enjoyed his talented analysis of the impact of media on the sport. From print journalism, which helped create fans to the advent of visual media (ably noted as "new ways of knowing") to the impact of electronic dissemination of information, baseball has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with mass communication. I was most impressed with his description of Henry Chadwick, whose devotion to the scientific and reform ideas he saw as essential to baseball's success, the father of baseball statistics. Readers will no doubt delight remembering Chadwick's invention of the stories "batting average" when they consider the impact of Bill James' type of information in their modern sensibilities.
There are nuggets of unmitigated delight here as well. Tygiel wonderously describes Babe Ruth becoming mute during an early radio interview and having his voice replaced by the moderator; nobody knew the difference and many commented on how well Ruth spoke. Then, Tygiel gives an absolutely fascinating commentary on Russ Hodges' famous "The Giants win the pennant" call after Bobby Thompson hit his "shot heard 'round the world." Not only that, he provides insight into how a prescient statistic analyst, Dodger employee Allan Roth, sadly predicted the very homerun which upset his beloved team.
Written with a love of the sport, a respect for the glorious cadences of the human voice and a knowledge of the political, economic and social interaction of sport and society, "Past Time" will emerge as one of the essential works on baseball every fan of the game and of the country will want to own.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, October 9, 2000
By 
Oliver W. Gill "cliffgill" (w. poland, me United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I probably grew up in "the middle" of baseball history avidly watching "my" Giants at the Polo Grounds and on channel 11 out of New York. In those days the Dodgers and Giants played each other 22 times a season and they were some of the best baseball wars imaginable.
Jules Tygiel maticulously and fascinatingly brings the history of baseball alive from its' beginnings up to "THE" homerun hit by Bobby Thompson in l951. Unlike other authors, however, he intigrates the progress of baseball with its intersection and influence on the progress of society. It is an unforgettable history lesson written in a crisp fashion that allows easy reading.
The last third of the book traces the dramatic changes in professional baseball that brings us the game we know today where arch rivals play a maximum of eight to ten games per year against each other and players continually rotate from team to team seeking the best dollar.
Whether you enjoy today's game as well the past where there were two leagues of eight teams each is irrelevent. Baseball, in the form it is played in 2000,is establishing permanentcy and likely to change little save for further expansion. Jules Tygiel's "Past Time" lets us understand the how and why the changes in the past fifty years have occurred. Like it or not - it sure is nice to know!
Finally, one of the best baseball books I have ever read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific baseball history that goes outside the foul lines, January 17, 2010
By 
Bruce Baskin (Chehalis, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
As someone who's been a baseball fanatic for 40+ years, I've read literally hundreds of books on the game. While I would normally recommend the basic baseball histories by Douglass Wallopp and Charles Alexander before this one because they're the best accounts of how the game evolved ON the field, I would strongly recommend "Past Time" to anyone who wants a better understanding of how baseball has reflected American society while both have developed over the past 150 years.

The chapter on Henry Chadwick was a revelation as to how statistics were created and developed (Chadwick was the Bill James of his time), and the chapter on Branch Rickey and Larry MacPhail did a terrific job of how these two very different men changed baseball in their own ways. You'll find something different in each of the nine chapters, but they all work together seamlessly.

If you're looking for a baseball history that focuses on events on the field, try the Wallopp or Alexander books first. If you want to read a baseball history from several different and unusual angles, this is the one. A tremendous book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 6, 2014
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This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick read, great for a plane, insightful., November 19, 2013
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This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
Quick read; each chapter can indeed be read as a stand alone (as stated) and doesn't need to be read front to back.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, July 29, 2013
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This review is from: Past Time: Baseball As History (Paperback)
This is an interesting look at history through the changes surrounding America's favorite pastime. Good gift for a baseball history fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, June 16, 2013
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Tygiel is brilliant, as usual. His bringing in historical and socio-cultural developments as introduction/explanation for important events in the history of baseball is carefully thought out and expressed beautifully.
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Past Time: Baseball As History
Past Time: Baseball As History by Jules Tygiel (Paperback - May 24, 2001)
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