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Ed Delahanty in the Emerald Age of Baseball Hardcover – February 28, 2004
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The book is meticulously researched and annotated, with most chapters devoted to a season or a couple of seasons in Delahanty's career. Prior to reading this book, I never knew much about Delahanty beyond the stats. Casway's book delves into Delahanty's personality, revealing details such as the player was bad at making speeches, could be self-centered at times, inmature at other times and had great difficulty making decisions. Conversly, Delahanty was also explained to be highly approachable by fans and greatly wanted people to like him.
As a lifelong Phillies fan, I also found the book to be a treasure trove of details regarding the autocratic Phillies ownership of the 1890s and overlooked Phillies Hall of Famers of the era like Sam Thompson and "Sliding" Billy Hamilton. Who knew that both Thompson and Hamilton were frugal men who saved their money and were ready for a life after baseball?
Today, Delahanty's career is largely overshadowed by his bizarre death. The other fascinating details in the book aside, it is the information on Delahanty's fall that truly captivated me. I had no idea that Delahanty appears to have suffered a nervous breakdown in the days immediately prior to his death, a plight that was only worsened when large quantities of alcohol were added to the situation.
The only downside to the book, and it is a small one at that, is how heavily the author focused on Delahanty's Irish ancestry, the impact of the Irish on 19th century baseball and the persecution of the ethnicty by the press of the time. I realize that Irish history is one of Dr. Casway's major interests, but so much of the book focuses heavily on the Irish aspect of MLB at the time.
That being said, this a great book that delves deep into the life of Delahanty far beyond the sensational aspects of his death. Compared to many books on 19th players, this book is a good sized read; it is over 300 pages without even getting into the notes section and also gives plenty of information on the 1890 Players' League and the contract jumping that was standard for the time in baseball.