The work of serious baseball historians tends to fall into two main categories; excellent writing short on research and extraordinary research spoiled by pompous, often pedantic prose. Then there's Howard Rosenberg. Rosenberg's "Cap Anson 4" the recently released...biography of one of the game's first "superstars" is as compelling as the latest James Patterson thriller and as meticulously well-researched as a successful doctoral thesis. Adrian C. Anson was the first player to get 3,000 hits,arguably the greatest player-manager of all-time and a pivotal figure in the creation of baseball's shameful color line that kept Black players out of the majors for more than 60 years. Rosenberg doesn't flinch from the accusations of Anson's racism, nor does he gloss over the Hall of Famer's other foibles and eccentricities. The book contains literally hundreds of footnotes and citations and perhaps thousands of newspaper quotations. Rosenberg poured over thousands of ancient newspaper clippings and archives. He concluded that in the 1880s and '90s writers were given a virtually free hand and did a superior job of capturing the mannerisms of players and painting pictures with words." He added "By the first decade of the 1900s, photography was a major presence and writers would, overall never be as independent and thus as interesting again." That may have been true for the vast majority of baseball writers including those plying the trade today. But it is certainly not true of Rosenberg. If you're at all interested in the early days of the "great America game," you can never go wrong reading Howard Rosenberg.
(From a review and feature) by Bart Fisher, New Britain (Conn.) Herald, May 1, 2006
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