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To Every Thing a Season Paperback – January 31, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Steegmuller relates the story of the deep friendship between the 18th-century intellectuals Madame d'Epinay and the Abbe Galiani, who met in the Paris of Voltaire and Diderot, and corresponded for years thereafter.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Winner of the 1991 SABR-MacMillan Book Award, Society for American Baseball Research
Winner of the 1991 Casey Award, Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine
"One of the most important baseball books in recent years."--George Robinson, Washington Post
"[Kuklick] shows what a ballpark can mean to a neighborhood: 'Shibe Park was a place where uncommon deeds gave people a sense of commonality. In this, its special beauty, the game at Shibe Park rose above the flaws of its businessmen, its players, and its fans.' "--Sports Illustrated
"[Kuklick] writes with authority, perspective, and compassion."--Philadelphia Inquirer
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It seems that Philly had the “perfect storm” working against this great old city stadium – the ghetto, terrible owners and managers, restrictive city laws (no games after 5 on Sunday and no beer – ever!), renowned and sustained racism and a general tide of anti urban, anti preservation and well – teams that really sucked, year after year.
I was surprised that the author ends the book by saying basically, it had it’s season, and will be forgotten. Oh well – to everything a season.
Really?! The same author says earlier that the selfishness of management was “not enough to make us skeptics. Believing in what might be trivial was the price we paid to escape private interest for those of a more overarching enterprise.” And later “Ball park memories are not about the game but about a romantic vision of past family life, about a good old time whose potential the present has not fulfilled.”
I had lunch today with a friend of mine who said he remembers walking to Connie Mack stadium as a kid in the 50’s with his dad. He said it was a long walk. But then the stadium would just “pop up” in the middle of a (still occupied) neighborhood. It was magic. Was something lost? Absolutely.
I wonder if the author would make any further additions to this book today, given the short life of the soulless Veterans Stadium and the success of in town ball clubs like the Cubs, Red Sox and others and the millions spent on minor league ball stadiums in so many towns in the 1990’s and 00’s that helped revive many "dead" urban areas nationwide.
Yeah I thinks things could have been different. Yes there is a season for everything. But seasons can be extended. The year they finally tore what was left of the stadium down was the year one of Philly's most famous (well ok, fictional) heroes made his entrance. He “coulda been a contender but instead was just a bum.” In the story of course, Rocky fights and goes the distance. I like that ending better too.
Much of the book is about Connie Mack ant the Athletics with the Phillies history after they began using Shibe Park, renamed Connie Mack Stadium.
It is a well researched and written book.
This is sophisticated history, not the once-over-lightly narratives of many baseball histories. Kuklick emphasizes the interrelations of the A's, the Phillies, and the residents of Philadelphia with Shibe Park as the point of convergence. Connie Mack, the owner of the A's, provides the human face of much of the description in the book and his successes and numerous failings on and off the field give "To Every Thing a Seasons" much of its dramatic power. Mack built two great baseball powerhouses with the A's, the first time in the years surrounding 1910 and again in the years around 1930. In both cases he dismantled those teams and sold the players to other Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises. The Phillies had far fewer good years than the A's, but did manage to win a National League pennant in 1950, and came close in 1964 when a late season collapse allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to take the pennant.
Kuklick does not recite too much of the on-field activities of the Phillies and A's, but instead focuses on the role of Shibe Park, and by extension its occupants, in the life of the Philadelphia. As such "To Every Thing a Season" is quite excellent urban history, and at some level also business and economic and social history, rather than sports or baseball history. Kuklick is correct to conclude, and this very fine book emphasizes it: "Part of the story of Shibe Park is one of proprietorial rapacity, cynicism, and the limitations of even admirable people in an industrial society" (p. 190). Kuklick's epilogue is a superb contemplation of the social function of MLB teams and their home cities, using Philadelphia as a model. It helped generate a shared identity and taught camaraderie and patience and acceptance of the world and its fortunes. In the end, Shibe Park served as a collector of memories for the city, of both good and bad events. It became, over time, the city's equivalent of the family kitchen table.
There is no question but that any reader will learn quite a lot from this book, and I recommend it as the starting point for serious investigation of MLB and its relation to the homes of its various franchises.