on April 14, 2006
I was really looking forward to this book, because I believe each World Series, especially in the deadball era should be recorded for history with a scholarly account.
Unfortunately the 1906 White Sox- Cubs series still awaits that account.
Potential readers expecting a book of the same standard as Louis P. Masur's Autumn Glory or Roger I. Abrams The First World Series, both about the 1903 World Series will be sorely disappointed by this effort.
I got the impression that parts of the book were rushed out after the White Sox won the 2005 series and were not written by Bernard Weisberger, but by a TV script writer. I find it hard to believe that a "distinguished teacher and author of American History" and "one of the best historians on earth" could write in the following style.
"It was a great double play of the balletlike kind that makes baseball glow, and like Evers great pickup in the first, it stopped the hemorrhaging. But four more runs were in for Jones's pyrotechnic experts."
"He attended Georgetown University, and in 1902 earned his dental degree (the course for which was then shorter)."
Four years, two years, ten years, we are not told. One minute we are being given lengthy essays on Spalding, Comiskey and the labor wars, and then we are given very clipped one sentence career information about the actual players, who participated in the series.
Also some of the content and comment was just annoyingly wrong and clearly not checked by a competent editor.
For instance, "....-but the Irish and the Germans had begun to make their inroads."
This is 1906 we are discussing, and perhaps the author had never heard of Jennings, Keeler, Kelley and McGraw, those "hardscrabble Irish" heroes of the Baltimore Orioles. But surely as the players in the series included, Hofman, Sheckard, Moran, Schulte, Steinfeldt, Kling, Reulbach, Pfeister, Hahn, Rohe, Donahue, Dougherty, Sullivan, Altrock and Walsh, I think we can safely say that the Germans and Irish had more than "begun to make their inroads".
I don't like being so harsh, but when a book is only 184 pages long I want it to spend the pages on the subject or closely related themes, not lengthy diversions on baseball's labor wars, and the 2005 White Sox victory.
One particularly annoying feature was that in the first paragraph of chapter 5 Bernard Weisberger lenghtily explains that the third and fourth games of a best of seven series tied at one all are the "swing games", as if we are unable to count to three or four. Fielders are "like a hawk hovering over a field mouse", or run down fly balls "like a cheetah." If these embellishments were intended to replicate the style of 1906 newspaper reporting they were a singular failure.
This could have been such a good book if it had concentrated more on the series, the players, the season, and the city of Chicago as it was in 1906. If you are billed as "one of the best historians on earth" with "enormous talents" your books have to meet a very high standard, and unfortunately I don't think this book reached those standards.
on August 19, 2006
Having recently moved to Chicago and become a White Sox rooter during their Cinderella season of 2005, I eagerly anticipated using Bernard Weisberger's "When Chicago Ruled Baseball" as a means of introducing myself to the history of the city's two storied franchises. Certainly, the subject matter the book covers is worthy of a treatise, as the 1906 World Series between the Sox and Cubs was noteworthy from multiple perspectives. The book's compelling subject matter kept my interest, but if Weisberger had taken more time to polish his prose and delve into more detail, the book could have been much better.
To his credit, Weisberger puts the 1906 World Series into historical perspective, and uses it as a springboard to discuss other important related subjects, including a portrait of turn-of-the-century Chicago (the 1906 World Series was just 35 years after the great Chicago fire); the genesis and formative early years of the major professional baseball leagues; and the formation of Chicago's two major league ball clubs (the original White Stockings who became the Cubs, and the upstart American League's White Sox). Each of these topics in and of itself is worthy of a book, and indeed Weisberger relies upon and cites several primary source books. So, "When Chicago Ruled Baseball" provides a surface-level overview of these subjects, along with game descriptions of the actual contests, drawn from newspaper accounts.
It left me wishing for more. If Weisberger had delivered 284 pages of prose instead of 184 he would have been able to delve more deeply into each of the major subject areas, other than the game descriptions (lacking an audio or visual record of the games, there is only so much that can be perused from newspaper write-ups). My other major complaint is that the writing was unpolished and flat at times.
"When Chicago Ruled Baseball" will be most appealing to, no surprise here, Sox and Cubs fans who don't already know the early history of their teams and their World Series appearances. That described me, so I am glad I read the book. Others might want to proceed cautiously, or choose to read one of the books that Weisberger relied upon.
on October 19, 2015
When Chicago Ruled Baseball is good historical account of the 1906 World Series. This is the only World Series to date that featured both Chicago teams. Mr. Weisberger does a good job of capturing the times. 1906 was a far different time than today. He sets the stage very well for this. He does a good job a telling the history of both clubs to 1906 and how they got there. There are many good stories about the players involved and a good chapter on what happened to all the players that played in this World Series after their life in baseball had ended. The telling of the games themselves was dry. My mind would wander during those game descriptions. I'm sure its hard to find interesting nuances to games that were 100 years old that had no radio or TV broadcast. Maybe some more player stories could have been intermingled with in the game stories? Also one big story that was left hanging was the feud between Tinker and Evers. What was it about? Was it ever resolved? We will never know by reading this book. But overall it was a good history of an early World Series. I do wish more of these early World Series between 1903 and 1918 were written about.
on December 4, 2007
I couldn't disagree more with some of the critical reviews posted here about "When Chicago Ruled Baseball." I'm not exactly sure what some of the other reviewers were expecting from a book on this topic, but in my opinion everyone from serious students of baseball history to the casual fan will be very pleased. I'm a long-time Chicago baseball fan (since about 1956). I fancy myself as an amateur baseball historian, and I'm also an avid student of the Dead ball era, so this book was right up my alley. I thought it was entertaining, very well done, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I've read "The 1903 World Series" and "Autumn Glory" (as one reviewer suggested) and thought this book compares very well...if anything, I enjoyed it more.
It was a fun book to read and I thought it captured just the right mix of relevant historical setting, delightful local color, extremely interesting character development, and in-depth baseball research. Mr. Weisberger writes in an engaging narrative style that flows very well and kept my attention throughout. I love books like this and it certainly deserves a second read. Apparently some of the other reviewers were expecting some sort of doctoral dissertation on the subject. I guess they're disapppointed. Everyone else will probably enjoy the book.
I was familiar with all of the personalities in the book, but reading about them within the context of the 1906 pennant races and World Series, I feel I now have a much deeper appreciation for them all. Also, I have a much deeper appreciation for baseball as it existed in Chicago in the historic year of 1906. In spite of all the changes to the game, it's still amazing how similar the game was played over 100 years ago. This was all captured well in the book and Mr. Weisberger is to be commended.
If you are serious student of the game, or if you just want to learn about the historic 1906 World Series, I'd highly recommend this book. You won't be disappointed.
on September 15, 2013
The 1906 World Series was an all Chicago affair pitting Frank "Peerless Leader" Chance's Tinker-Evers-Chance Cubs against Fielder Jones' "Hitless Wonders" White Sox. [Spoiler alert- !!! anyone who does not know the outcome of 1906 World Series and wants to find it out at the end of the book at should not read any further in this paragraph.] Although the Cubs were viewed as the strongest team in baseball at that time and perhaps one of the greatest in the history of baseball (their 116 victories during the 154 game regular season was a record that stood for almost a century until the Seattle Mariners won the same number of games in the 162 game season of 2001), the "Hitless Wonders" were the Series' victors by a margin of 4 games to 2.
Prior to completing this work on a subject for which he obviously holds deep affection, Bernard Weisberger, former professor of American history at several institutions, including Swarthmore College, University of Chicago and University of Rochester (where he was chairman of the department) authored several works on American history. In this work, Professor Weisberger provides a lively and engaging narrative of the games of the series, the events of the season leading up to it, as well as the goings on in the crowd (both inside and outside the ballpark). The result is that the reader receives as close to a feeling of having actually witnessed the events as is reasonably possible.
Weinberger also explores in considerable depth the backgrounds of the teams and the principal individual participants in the 1906 drama. At the forefront of this group are Cubs Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, all assured of a permanent place in baseball lore because of Franklin Pierce Adams' 1910 poem (the name of which is known by anyone who has gotten this far in this review). Among others whose lives are explored on the Cubs side are pitchers Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (with one of the most colorful nicknames in baseball history), and Ed Reulbach, along with third baseman Harry Steinfeldt (the member of the Cubs' infield who did not make it into Adams' poem.)
Among the White Sox of prominence discussed in the text are center fielder and team manager Fielder Jones, pitchers Nick Altrock, Ed Walsh, and Doc White, and George Rohe, a substitute during the regular season, whose .333 average during the World Series tied for the team lead with that of first baseman "Jiggs" Donahue (such a performance would now term him to be a `super-sub').
Enhancing the narrative are images and references to the history of the city of Chicago, as well as literary references that are worked in smoothly and without pretention (such as a quotation from the clown Feste from Twelfth Night, "What's to come is yet unsure.")
Weisberger also provides a brief `history of organized baseball for dummies' from the origins of the various leagues through the nineteenth century leading up to the events of 1906. This is particularly pertinent to the two teams involved in the 1906 Series because of the integral roles of Albert G. Spalding, with respect to the Cubs and Charles Comisky, with respect to the White Sox, each played prominent roles in the formation of their teams respective leagues.
Weisberger describes in some detail how Spalding was key figure in the 1876 machinations that led to the organization of the National League and the accompanying demise of the league's predecessor, the National Association. A star pitcher for the 1875 Boston Red Stockings of the National Association, Spalding convinced several stars of the Red Stockings as well other players, including Cap Anson, to leave their teams in the National Association and join him on the Chicago team in the new National League that was then known as the "White Stockings"--which would become the Cubs. He would go on to manage the team, then to move into ownership of the teams. Weisberger also discusses how Spalding amassed a fortune from the sporting goods company he started and was a key figure in the creation of the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown.
Weisberger follows Comisky's career as a player in the early days of the National League, then as a player and a manger in the Western League; Comisky would eventually move of the St. Paul Saints to Chicago in 1900 and rename the team the "White Stockings" (the name had been abandoned by the Cubs by that time.) Weisberger also relates in detail the politics and machinations in which Comisky engaged to establish his franchise in the early days of the American League.
The reader is introduced to those who covered the Series, including the Tribune's Hugh Fullerton (whose reporting on the 1919 World Series would be among the key elements in exposing the fix), the scholarly Irving "Sy" Sandborn, and Charles Dryden, who practiced what is described as his "Aw nuts" school of sportswriting.
The book, which is written in a flowing and conversational style, laced with dry humor at spots, will be a welcome read for any Chicago baseball fan, as well as anyone who enjoys a history of the game. The book is also broad enough in its coverage of the events and culture of Chicago that in many ways it transcends just baseball and should be enjoyable for anyone interested in the history of the city during that period.
It is appropriate and commendable that the book includes individual records of the players for the season and the World Series, as well as box scores for the respective games. The formatting could have been a bit more user friendly, but that is why BaseballRefernce.com was invented (and whoever did that should receive a Nobel Prize.)
As a conclusion, Weisberger reflects on recent events on the Chicago baseball scene(the book was written in 2006) in an engaging "Afterword" on the 2005 White Sox' World Championship. (Choosing to stick to the positive, he leaves alone other Chicago baseball events which at the time were comparatively recent-- being the infamous grab by a fan (unnamed here) of a foul ball about to be caught by Moises Alou of the Cubs in game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series game-- the play viewed by Cub faithful as the key in a sequence of events that led to the team's failure to win that year's NLCS and move on to the World Series that year.)
Wise to stick with the positive, Professor, in a work well done.
on April 29, 2015
Very good account of when Chicago's two teams played each other and had the city puffing its chest out about being the capital of baseball...
Chicago of the American League proved that good pitching stops good hitting...the Cubs had great pitching also but got overconfident in the first couple of games in the series which set the tone for rest of the series. The author did a good job of putting the series in context describing the events of the day along with the political and social machinations of the first decade of the 20th century.
on September 16, 2015
the book was fascinating.....especially all the background kwowledge of major league basesball......in the 1880's 1890's.......leading up to 1906 series between the Cubs and White Sox........which ,was absolutely well written/+well explained ,with the people /world around it, during that era.........any baseball fan.......a must read
on April 5, 2008
This intense look at baseball's first City Series recreates the feel of the game in 1906. Author Bernard Weisberger describes this exciting World Series in the pre-TV, pre-radio era of dead-ball day games and tiny wooden ballparks, when tiny gloves, legal spitballs, trains, streetcars, and horse-drawn wagons were part of the scene. Readers learn about the history of both teams and leagues. The talented 1906 Cubs had a record of 116-36 (still the best ever), while the underdog White Sox won 19 straight via solid pitching and effective offense despite their misleading ¨Hitless Wonders¨ label. Weisberger seats us in the packed grandstand with his tense descriptions of each game, and of stars like Ed Walsh, Three Finger Brown (my grandfather's favorite), Nick Altrock, Joe Tinker, John Evers, Frank Chance, etc. We see how the White Sox took the Series in six games, leading to all-night celebrations (the Cubs then won in 1907-08, but at this writing never since). There is also an appendix with team stats, information about the players after baseball, and a brief description of the Sox 2005 title (Chicago's first since 1917).
I gave just four stars because Weisberger misstates a couple facts, barely mentions the often bitter Cubs-Sox rivalry, and mislabels a photo of Cubs park as Sox park. He also suggests the 1906 Sox had no offense - but they were 3rd in the league in runs. Still, this is an appealing book for Cubs fans, Sox fans (I'm one), and others with an interest in a tense World Series that must have appealed to many of our great-grandparents.
Long before the bitter rivalry evolved into its current state, the White Sox and Cubs met in the 1906 World Series. The city was entranced by the series. At the time, the event seemed as though it could be a regular occurence, but it turned out to be a novelty. Being that professional baseball was still in its embryonic stages, not a lot of information exists about the series. For this reason, Weisberger did a commendable job researching this third World Series.
Much like life in 1906, baseball was much different then. Players often held other jobs and were often more accessable to the public. I appreciate Weisberger taking time to discuss the evolution of baseball that led toward the 1906 series. I found it really added to the story. Much of the information is gathered through newspaper archives which were surprisingly telling. The afterword, in which he talks about the players' fates after the series, was perhaps the most revealing. I was surprised by the short lives lived by many of the players though they did live in a world with poorer quality medical treatment. The background on many of the players does not come until the last chapter.
Some of the other reviews are more critical of the book than me. The book is too short, though I might suggest this is because information is sparse. However my appreciation is seen through the eyes of a White Sox fan, so I may not be entirely objective.
Author Bernard Weisberger does a workmanlike job of telling the story of the 1906 World Series when the mighty Chicago Cubs (116 wins) played the Chicago White Sox, the "hitless wonders" (.230 team batting average).
Weisberger covers all the bases in explaining how the Cubs and White Sox were built and got to the World Series. He delves into Albert Spalding and Charles Comiskey, architects of the teams; the early years of baseball and its fledging leagues; the formation of the National League and American League; how the players were acquired; and what happened to the players after 1906.
Surprisingly, the White Sox upset the Cubs, four games to two. Although the White Sox had Ed Walsh and Doc White, they had few notable players, particularly compared to the Cubs that featured Three-Finger Brown, Ed Reulbach, Frank Chance, Johnny Kling, Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker.
This thin book, which includes a chapter on the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series, is probably best enjoyed by diehard Chicago baseball fans.