Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World's Finest Private Collections

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Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World's Finest Private Collections [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

Stephen Wong
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 27, 2007

Among the national treasures you'll find:

  • The only known photographic image of baseball's first organized team, the New York Knickerbockers, circa 1846.
  • Original copy of the first written rules of modern baseball.
  • One of the earliest known color advertising posters promoting the very first set of baseball cards, released in 1887.
  • Scorecard from the inaugural World Series in 1903.
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson's rookie-era game-used bat.
  • Game-worn jerseys of Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Grove, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who want to see Mickey Mantle's uniform from the 1968 season, Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball from 1998, or a Satchel Paige autographed glove will find them among scores of treasures in this oversized book, vividly illustrated with color photographs of the most exceptional private baseball memorabilia collections, many of which contain items that have not been seen in public for decades. More than simple eye candy for the baseball fetishist, the book includes thoughtful essays that delve into collectors' backgrounds, introducing the reader to an array of people, their quirks and their motivations for collecting. Some of the collectors are well known: one chapter is devoted to the collection of Todd McFarlane, creator of the comic book character Spawn; another displays the baseball folk art collection of Penny Marshall-Laverne of Laverne and Shirley and the director of the baseball movie, A League of Their Own. Others are more ordinary people who have been blessed with the dedication and means to take their passion for baseball to an extraordinary level. Wong, a lawyer and baseball historian, places the artifacts in social and historic context as he conveys the arcane but captivating knowledge gathered by these collectors, who are authorities on obscure details like the model numbers of bats. This book is fine companion for baseball enthusiasts looking for something to tide them over during those long winter days between the World Series and spring training.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This sumptuous volume offers an irresistible entree into what must be one of the richest private collections of baseball memorabilia in the world. Although the chapters are arranged by collector, they fall neatly into categories reflecting those collectors' specific areas of interest, such as baseball cards, equipment, uniforms, advertisements, "pin-backs," autographs, and stadium mementos. Many of the story lines are explicit, such as baseball's evolution since the mid-1800s, or the game's strong association with pop culture. Other story lines are less obvious but just as telling, such as baseball's (and society's) more careless tolerance of pain: nineteenth-century baseball played without helmets, rules that allowed teams to record outs by hitting the runner with the baseball (known as soaking), and mitts so unpadded as to pass for driving gloves. And there are nice little touches, like the close-up photos of nine World Series rings, or the sepia image of a touring, 1888-89 American baseball team standing at various points atop the Sphinx. The collections are beautifully photographed and laid out on the page, and the text and captions--once past Wong's obligatory paean to his own youthful attachment to baseball--complement the illustrations well. A godsend for baseball geeks everywhere. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061121215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061121210
  • ASIN: B002ECEFC6
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Coffee-Table Book March 11, 2006
This beautiful book belongs in every baseball enthusiast's library, but it would be a mistake to keep it on the shelves. Author Stephen Wong has partnered with the Smithsonian to publish the most stunning book on baseball on the market. It deserves to be on your coffee table not only because of its wonderful photographs but also due to the wonderfully rich way he presents the history of the game. Wong gained remarkable access to the sport's foremost collectors, combing through hundreds of images and memorabilia items. The payoff is tremendous for anyone with an interest in baseball or, for that matter, in American history and culture. Readers will learn the essential facts about the game, and the fascinating tidbits, such as the origins of the curve ball. They then get to see remarkable shots, some most unusual - from folk art statues to Don Larsen's enshrined shoes from his perfect game to the bricks of former stadiums. In fact, this book should be placed in the Hall of Fame!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique and wonderful baseball book October 5, 2005
This is a wonderful baseball book. It captures the entire sweep of our national pastime's history through the description and display of the best (and undoubtedly the most valuable!) private collections of baseball memorabilia. The collectors themselves are a varied lot, from a Wall Street exec to a famous Hollywood celebrity, and each has built up a remarkable collection of some of the rarest, most historically significant baseball memorabilia in existence. This book is a lot more than baseball cards and home run balls, although there is plenty of that. The various collections include amazing original photographs, and the bats, gloves, and uniforms of all the baseball greats, plus lots of unexpected gems like board games, old posters and advertisements, and even folk art fashioned from baseball odds and ends. The photos are accompanied by excellent captions that are very informative, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking, like the game itself. In this book, done to the Smithsonian's usual high standards, the baseball greats of yesteryear seem to come alive and stride the basepaths once again. It almost seems like you can reach out and touch Ty Cobb's bat, or feel the texture of Ted Williams' uniform, or hear the roar of the crowds at The Polo Grounds. Anyone with an interest in baseball will thoroughly enjoy this book, and I heartily recommend it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I picked up this book with only a passing interest in baseball memorabilia born of my childhood baseball card collection that my mother eventually disposed of, much to my dismay, when I moved out. As a result of reading this book, I now have a greater appreciation for the art of baseball memorabilia. I would recommend this book to those who recall their childhood card collections with fondness as well as to fans of the game of baseball itself.

The author has combined an insider's knowledge of baseball memorabilia with a reverence for the history of the game and an understanding of the game's place within American culture. It is clear from the book's essays that he knows how intertwined baseball and America really are. The book's pictures make these one-of-a-kind private collections appear like the works of art that many of them truly are.

In addition to well-known baseball memorabilia (the Honus Wagner baseball card, Babe Ruth's bats), the author has an eye for unusual private collections. One of my favorites in the book was the person who focused his collection on Moe Berg, an Ivy League grad and backup catcher in the majors during the 1930s who spoke six languages and served in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA, during World War II. I also had no idea that Penny Marshall (director of "A League of Their Own"), who is featured in the book, is such an avid baseball memorabilia collector.

A great gift for baseball fans of all ages.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Baseball Book Ever! September 27, 2005
Smithsonian Baseball is simply the very best baseball book ever produced! It captures like no other the soul of our national pastime, as passionately expressed in the introduction by it's author, Mr. Stephen Wong. It should be treasured as a museum piece itself with the same reverence as the collections it so perfectly captures.

Baseball has been the cornerstone of my life literally each and everyday I could remember, truly a best friend. Like baseball, the book's spirit is a personification of my being.

Tremendous thought and care went into every word and illustration of the book. The quality is unparalleled; the cover, the paper, the photography, the essays, the captions, the organization, all representing the love of the game.

What Michelangelo is to the Sistine Chapel, Stephen Wong's one-of-a-kind masterpiece is to baseball!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Spectacular January 4, 2006
I have had the great privilege of being a baseball fan for over 50 years and my humble library includes over 1,000 books on our National Pastime. I do not claim to be an authority or a worhty critic of baseball literature. I am simply a lifelong devoted fan who, like many, have reveled in (time and time again) the rich prose from the game's most legendary scribes - Angell, Honig, Ritter, Kinsella, Kahn, Stanton, Thorn, Halberstam, et al. What has impressed me most about this book is that it exudes so much passion about baseball's history and its underlying emotions. I have never come across a baseball book that has captivated my attention on such a high level. Wong's text is extraordinarily rich with layers upon layers of historical context and plenty of time honored baseball anecdotes. The photographs are breathtaking. I can not imagine how much time Wong and his photographer must have spent on producing many of those unforgettable montage shots - positioning of the pieces, lighting, shadowing effect, etc. The artifacts simply jump off the pages. This is not one of those typical "formula-driven" baseball books that slaps together old photos with dry text in time for opening day sales. This is truly a work of art . . . so much time and effort went into the layout of every page. The positioning of the artifacts with the text in each chapter flow like a Mozart symphony. It really all comes together very well. I can only tip my hat to Mr. Wong. No corners were cut in this magnum opus. This is baseball history at its finest. Well done.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For the Baseball memorabilia junky
Anyone interested in baseball memorabilia would want to consider buying this book. It covers some really interesting stuff from the past
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball memorabilia
I bought this book for my son. He is a big baseball fan and has a big baseball memorabilia collection. Not only is it loaded with information, it's a great read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ronald P Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Book
Great coffee table book. They've compiled graphics, photos and memorabilia -- held together with interesting essays. Read more
Published on February 21, 2011 by Judith Sayad
5.0 out of 5 stars Smiothsonian Baseball
I purchased this as a gift and the recipient was thrilled with it. I did sneak a peak before giving it away and enjoyed it immencely.
Published on March 11, 2007 by Peggy L. Mcintyre
5.0 out of 5 stars Smithsonian Baseball
A very well done book. Big glossy pictures of some of the greatest Baseball artifacts in America. Probably the closest I will get to seeing these in person.
Published on March 8, 2007 by Damian E. Ruiz
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 picture is worth...........
As a lover of the old days of baseball (prior to the 1970's) , and with an interest in various types of artifacts pertaining to the old days, this book wonderfully broadened my... Read more
Published on January 4, 2007 by Harry J. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, It's Beautiful, but It's Smart, Too
Stephen Wong has created a drop-dead gorgeous look at some of the game's great artifacts, and many will be surprised to learn that they are not at the Baseball Hall of Fame nor... Read more
Published on August 31, 2006 by John Thorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Smithsonian Baseball
great book ....full of information and great pictures
Published on January 15, 2006 by Michael G. Scotto
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good But It's Just Not Cricket
It is clear from the carefully composed prose on every page that Wong loves this game. As an Englishman introduced to baseball by sport channels, Ken Burns and books, I learned... Read more
Published on January 9, 2006 by Duncan Keith Jepson
1.0 out of 5 stars What has gone wrong with the game
I received this book for Christmas as I have been a devotee of the game for over 30 years. I have never been so disappointed in any present I have ever received. Read more
Published on January 3, 2006 by Albert Stewart
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