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Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball Hardcover – March 3, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"Sharp, thoroughly researched examination of gender discrimination in [baseball].--Los Angeles Times

"The story Ring tells is outrageous.  Her title is accurate:  baseball has been stolen from girls."--Women's Review of Books

"Throwing 'like a girl' is an age-old taunt, and Jennifer Ring has had enough of it."--Washington Post

“An important work. . . . Ring traces over a 100 years of issues arising from individuals, cultural biases, legal arguments, and the like to develop a full picture.”--Cave 17.com

“An extraordinary account of the rejection of female players from baseball. . . . [Ring] searches for ways to reclaim baseball’s nickname, 'the people’s game,' and encourage females who want to play a game they are passionate about.  Highly recommended.”--Choice

Book Description

Far from being strictly a men's sport, baseball has long been enjoyed and played by Americans of all genders, races, and classes since it became popular in the 1830s. The game itself was invented by English girls and boys, and when it immigrated to the United States, numerous prominent women's colleges formed intramural teams and fielded intensely spirited and powerful players.

Jennifer Ring questions the forces that have kept girls who want to play baseball away from the game. With the professionalization of the sport in the early twentieth century, Albert Goodwill Spalding--sporting goods magnate, baseball player, and promoter--declared baseball off limits for women and envisioned global baseball as a colonialist example to teach non-white men to become civilized and rational. And by the late twentieth century, baseball had become serious business at all levels, with female players perceived as obstacles to rising male players' stakes of success.

Stolen Bases also looks at American softball, which was originally invented by men who wanted to keep playing baseball indoors during cold winter months but has become the consolation sport for most female players. Throughout her analysis, Ring searches for ways to rescue baseball from its arrogance and exclusionary entitlement and to restore the great American sport's more optimistic nickname: the people's game.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252032829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252032820
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,421,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard Hopkins on March 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Too bad the original cover photo for the book was rejected due to NCAA interference. The player in the USA jersey played college baseball and the NCAA said it would pull her eligibility for all sports if she appeared on the cover. It was truly a spectacular photo of the player sliding at the plate being tagged out by the Chinese-Taipei catcher.It is a shame that the title will preclude many baseball fans from reading the book. Contained within the pages are numerous historical references to the game originally called base-ball when played in England in the 1740's. As a student of the game, as well as a player for 45 years, I was humbled by my lack of knowledge of baseball history that I thought I knew. A thoughtful and well thought out chronicle of baseball, invented by milkmaids in 18th century England to pass the time between milkings, through the re-invention of the game in 1839 America, and up until the writing of the book. While it does include the history of sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding's insistence that girls & women not play the game, as well as organized baseball's continuing ban on women players, and other injustices in between, it is all presented in a factual and straight forward manner. With the International Olympic Organizing Committee's requirements that baseball follow the same rules as all other sports, namely played by women in 40 countries on three continents, in order to return as an Olympic sport, combined with the International Amateur Baseball Federation's March 2009 pledge to the IOOC that baseball's proposal to return to the Olympics will include women's baseball, this book debuts at the most opportune time. Perhaps America's pastime will once again be enjoyed by the game's inventors - girls and women.
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Format: Hardcover
STOLEN BASES: WHY AMERICAN GIRLS DON'T PLAY BASEBALL is written by a political scientist who got fired up about girls and baseball during the years when she helped her daughter fight for the right to play. Both scholarly and personal, the book is a great read. Jennifer Ring draws on scholarly literatures in sport history and sociology, and ties in some nice photos, past and present, all the while peppering in insights from her own years of experience with her daughter. The book is accessible, smart and timely. With former Women's Sports foundation head Donna Lopiano now heading up a high-profile commission to advocate for women and baseball, this book could be just the ticket for adding depth to this current social issue.
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Format: Hardcover
Ring has written a superb book that examines four factors that have influenced the exclusion of girls and women from baseball: the historical development of the game, the social and cultural context in which it evolved, institutional structures, (such as Little League, High School & College athletic programs), and recruitment and development practices targeting boys for future professional careers. Ring describes the differences between baseball and softball and explains why they are two distinct games. She also points out: "Just as there is nothing inherently masculine about baseball, there is nothing inherently feminine about softball." Ring's passion for the game and righteous indignation at the exclusion of girls and women from full participation at all levels, come through clearly and will inspire readers to recognize and resist blatant and subtle barriers to women reclaiming their Field of Dreams.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The latter half of this book is filled with an excellent analysis of college sports in the U.S., and how college football departments take money away from other men's sports, then place the blame on women and Title IX. The author, whose daughter played hardball through Little League and high school, spends several chapters detailing the bias and discrimination against women playing baseball. Some of these early chapters read like summaries rather than fully-developed arguments or explanations. The diversion into the history of women playing cricket in England (Chapter 7) is fascinating and instructive. I would have liked to see more of this comparison throughout the book. Despite some weaknesses, though, this is a book that everybody interested in equality in sports should read and learn from. Recommended!
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