Highly acclaimed author Louis P. Masur has nothing to worry about.
His new book, AUTUMN GLORY: Baseball's First World Series, hammers
Bob Ryan's tome about the 100th anniversary of the 1903
championship between the Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh
Pirates out of the proverbial ballpark.
While Ryan is one of the most renowned sports columnists in the
country working for the Boston Globe, his book doesn't even
come close to unearthing the full story of professional baseball in
America during its infancy at the turn of the 20th-century. Ryan's
work largely centers on the relationship between Globe
baseball writer Tim Murnane and Boston player-manager and Hall of
Famer Jimmy Collins. But there was much, much more to the story of
this inaugural World Series than just a friendship between a pro
ballplayer and a sportswriter.
Masur's scholarly work, complete with numerous photos, box scores
and statistics, tells the story of the breathtaking series, but
also examines the off-field doings among legendary baseball men at
the time like Charles Comiskey, Ban Johnson, and Henry
Even before the first World Series pitch was thrown by immortal
hurler Cy Young at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, professional
baseball was coming apart at the seams. That is until a Peace
Conference in January involving several highly controversial owners
at the time realized that the ongoing "war" between the fledgling
American League and National League had to come to an end if
America's pastime was to continue.
Masur also does a great job of illustrating how controversial
Cincinnati Reds owner John T. Brush did all he could to squash the
peace negotiations that the owners reached until he realized that
doing so would bankrupt his ball club. Brush was so distraught over
his defeat that he refused to gather with the rest of the National
League owners to sing "In the Good Old Summer Time."
AUTUMN GLORY is an absolute treasure trove of how passionate fans
were about their baseball teams in Boston and Pittsburgh during the
early days of the game. Masur dedicates eight different chapters to
provide in-depth information about each game of the thrilling
series that Boston, believe it or not, won five games to three
(originally the World Series had a best-of-nine format, as opposed
to the best-of-seven format that is used today).
Masur, who is a professor of history at City College of New York,
editor of the prestigious REVIEWS OF AMERICAN HISTORY and author of
two other previous works, does a fine job at bringing to life
numerous ballplayers who were stars of the game 100 years ago.
Through tireless research of several newspapers, magazines and
diaries by Masur, the importance of players like Boston pitcher
Bill Dinneen, who was clearly more dominant than Young during the
series, and Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, is evident
throughout the book.
Another fascinating aspect of AUTUMN GLORY is the impact of
gambling in the game of baseball by players as well as fans. Masur
again does stellar work in narrating the rampant gambling that
infected the sport up until 1919 and the great Black Sox
Certainly both Ryan's book and AUTUMN GLORY overlap in some areas,
but Masur crafts his story of this utterly important event in a
much finer fashion.
Reviewed by David Exum on January 21, 2011