21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Baseball's Rich and Rollicking Past,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game (Hardcover)I first read about Chris Von der Ahe, Arlie Latham, and the St. Louis Browns (today's Cardinals) in a small paperback entitled "Comedians and Pranksters of Baseball" published by The Sporting News about 50 years ago. Thankfully author Edward Achorn has brought the period of early baseball back to life with this new gem on the 1883 pennant race between the Browns and the Philadelphia Athletics, both members of the American Association.
Baseball was on a somewhat downward swing particularly in the mid-west when Browns' owner Chris Von der Ahe put together an attractive team primarily to sell his beer to the fans. Ballplayers during this era were night owls and hard drinkers which made it very difficult for a manager to control his charges.
Author Achorn brings long-forgotten players such as the previously mentioned Latham, Charles Comiskey, Cap Anson, Daniel "Jumping Jack" Jones, Harry Stovey, Ed "The Only" Nolan, Moses Fleetwood Walker, Tim "Ted" Sullivan, Pete "The Old Gladiator" Browning, and several others back to life in this enriching book on the very early days of baseball.
A major strength of this book is the author's ability to bring out the personalities of the characters in this 1883 pennant race. The bigoted Anson and and other players in their refusal to accept the highly educated Fleetwood Walker which set the cause of blacks in organized baseball back until Jackie Robinson's arrival in 1947 is amply brought out. Browns' manager Sullivan quitting the team in the heat of a pennant race due to owner Von der Ahe's meddling in Sullivan's managerial decisions.
This was an era of players who lived fast and died young. Their fame didn't last and they became as the poet Housman would write, "Runners whom renown outran and the name died before the man." An epilogue is provided at the end of the book relating what happened to the major characters following this rollicking 1883 season.
If you are interested in baseball's rich history this book will bring several long-forgotten names from the game's past back to life. My sincere thanks to author Edward Achorn for providing us with this book. Thank you so much! If you claim to be a baseball fan, you need this book in your library.
The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game(31 customer reviews)