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Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball Paperback – March 14, 2000


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Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball + A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Main Street Books; 1 edition (March 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385498829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385498821
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it" is one of those perfect axioms that begs the question, When is baseball gonna finally remember and get it right? Subtitled "The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball," Solomon's splendidly energetic examination of one of the sport's most powerful and storied franchises stands as a fascinating--and cautionary--study of how a team, regardless of quality, can simply implode. And what a team the Orioles of the 1890s was: manager Ned Hanlon and stars Wee Willie Keeler, John McGraw, Hugh Jennings, Wilbert Robinson, Dan Brouthers, Iron Man McGinnity, and Joe Kelley all deserve their plaques in Cooperstown. As a unit, they created "scientific baseball," redefining the way the game was played and dominating the National League. Yet, by 1903, to Baltimore's horror and confusion, there were no more Orioles. A series of self-destructive choices successfully conspired to export their best players to Brooklyn and remove the franchise--now a member of the American League and playing in New York as the Highlanders--from the Major League standings for nearly half a century.

A fine reporter and writer, Solomon does a remarkable job of bringing the past into the present, exploring how little has changed in terms of baseball business and organizational stupidity through the years. With its marvelous cast of real--and fully realized--characters, Where They Ain't reads as much like a novel as it does like history, and though we know how it ends, it remains an important story worth telling, learning from, and certainly remembering. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The more things change, the more they remain the same in the world of baseballthats the lesson that emerges from this exemplary look at the game of a century ago. Baseball was a mess then, too: players' salaries were skyrocketing, cheating and hooliganism ran rampant, owners pondered schemes to ``protect'' the game (mainly from themselves). No team was safe; even the reigning world champion was dismantled, with the pieces going to the highest bidders. Solomon's crackerjack account chronicles the games coming of age, both for better and for worse, through the story of the National League's Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s1900s. The archetype for modern baseball, a team built on speed, fielding, and smarts, the Orioles were powered by a core of future Hall of Famers that included ``Wee Willie Keeler (whose hitting mantra isi evoked in the book's title) and hot-tempered John McGraw, later a great innovator in his own right. They executed revolutionary plays: the ``Baltimore chop'' (hitting a ball downward and running out the hop) and the hit-and-run, to this day a strategic mainstay that was devised by manager Ned Hanlon. Beloved by Baltimore, the Orioles stitched together a run of campaigns that earned them the mantle ``the greatest team ever'' from writers of the day. About the only thing that could sink this juggernaut was a greedy owner, who came in the guise of Harry von der Horst, a profligate brewing scion with a huge ego and legal bills to match. Like his counterparts, Harry loathed the idea of paying salaries commensurate with players' performance. Long story made short, he and the other owners tried several schemes to keep salaries in check and control the game, including syndicate ownership (simultaneous ownership of more than one team by a single ownership group). The result of this was the merging of Brooklyn's nine with the Orioles, with the southern team serving as a virtual farm club. The inevitable losers in all this, naturally, were the fans. Baltimore soon folded its National League tent. A club in the upstart American League took its place, only to move a few years later to New York, where they eventually became the Yankees. An outstanding blend of lore, social history, and canny insight, redolent with detail and the language of the day. Tonic, albeit a bitter one, for fans who think baseball today is at its nadir. (Radio satelite tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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In short, this book reads like a compelling novel but it actually happened just as Mr. Solomon describes.
Mr. Terry L. Hartzell
This account of that period, the Orioles and the team's best hitter, "Wee Willie" Keeler, is a good read for all fans who love baseball history.
Craig Connell
I would highly recommend this book for any one interested in US history or merely in the history of baseball.
Ian C. Hunt (ihunt@fas.harvard.edu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on April 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I used to avoid books about 19th century baseball, fearing that I'd find the game too unfamiliar to the one I grew up with. The rules were often different, the style of play was different, and you couldn't watch it on ESPN Classic.
"Where They Ain't", however, is one of the better baseball books I've read. Ostensibly about the old Baltimore Orioles of the National League in the 1890s, this book is really a micro-history of early baseball, tracing the game forward -- both on and off the field -- through the advent of Babe Ruth. Burt Solomon paints a very convincing picture of those Orioles as the team that had the singlemost impact on the way the game is played today. He chronicles the playing and early mangerial days of John McGraw, Ned Hanlon, Wilbert Robinson and Willie Keeler, and shows how they introduced the aggressive style of play -- the hit-and-run, the double-steal, the drag bunt, the Baltimore chop -- that still wins pennants today.
But more than profiling that now-defunct team, Solomon paints a vivid picture of the economics of the game at large. Playing in ornate wood stadiums, a team would be lucky to draw 5,000 fans (or "cranks", in the parlace of the time) to the grandstands and "bleacheries". The owners fiddled mercilessly with cost-cutting ideas such as contraction, team syndicates, and collusion. Indeed, that these ideas all failed so miserably (forging the birth of the rival American League, a revolution which swallowed its own children so rapidly that within three years you couldn't tell one league from the other) that your eyebrows will leap off your head when you see that today's owners are still using them!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on December 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Baseball hasn't changed much over the past 100 years. Players and owners still wrangle with one another with the latter claiming the former are overpayed. This is more than the story of the Orioles of the 1890's. It is also about the beginning of the success of the Dodgers and Giants and the beginning of the New York Yankees when the Baltimore franchise was moved to New York in 1903 to become the Highlanders. Rich colorful characters such as Willie Keeler, John McGraw, Joe Kelley, Hughie Jennings, and others populate this book when you played with injuries because you were encouraged to "take it like an old Oriole." Baseball historian Fred Lieb wrote a book entitled "The Baltimore Orioles" many years back about this subject, and it is with a great deal of thanks that I express to both him and Burt Solomon, the author of "Where They Ain't" for bringing American social history alive for us to enjoy. There is more to American history than wars, treaties, and presidents. Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and buy this book. You can thank me later. This book is an easy five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike Sparks on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's tempting to think that baseball has become a business only in the last 25 years or so. This wonderful book shows that even 100 years ago baseball was all business (frequently in a cutthroat way). Imagine if Steinbrenner or Turner owned several teams and switched the best players back and forth. Sounds crazy, right? That's exactly what "Syndicate Baseball" of the late 1800's was. The Baltimore Orioles and Brooklyn Superbas were owned by the same beer baron. Many of the Orioles best players (including 3 of the big 4) featured in Where They Ain't were transferred to Brooklyn. The same fate befell the Cleveland Spiders when all of their quality players were shipped to St. Louis in 1899. This book is populated by historical baseballers (Keeler, Kelley, Hanlon, McGraw) and scoundrels (the National League owners, especially Andrew Freedman). For the baseball fan who yearns for "the good old days" this is a must read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Many will know that Dimaggio broke Wee Willie Keeler's hitting streak of 44 consecutive games, or will know the name of Ty Cobb's manager Hughie Jennings, or the name of the much-feared Giants manager John McGraw (who turns out to be the combined Ty Cobb and Tony Gwynn of his day), but this book brings these legendaries to life in the days when they themselves were playing, all on the same team as it turns out! Also included is Ned Hanlon, a little known manager who seems to have practically invented modern baseball training and tactics, "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, Cy Young (he of the famous award), Kid Nichols, Charles Ebbets and other distant whispers. There is even the occasional mention of Babe Ruth. The book does everything right, knowing when to slow down and just enjoy the subject and when to fast forward to the next salient points. There is a nice collection of photos, thorough appendices and wondeful footnotes that are a pleasure to read in themselves. Overall, Solomon and his editorial team have created a fascinating immersion in the time when fans were "cranks" and hurlers were "twirlers".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ian C. Hunt (ihunt@fas.harvard.edu on April 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was a masterful description of baseball's most notorious era. I bought the book, hoping to learn more about the Old Orioles, a legendary team. And I got more than I bargained for. I was thrust into a world of "Syndicate Baseball," where fans and players were ignored and the personal vendettas of the owners dictated the circumstances under which baseball would exist. I would highly recommend this book for any one interested in US history or merely in the history of baseball. Disclaimer- I am a devout Orioles fan and a native of Baltimore City.
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