Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michiganby Peter Morris

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<ul><li><p>Trustees of Indiana University</p><p>Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan by Peter MorrisReview by: Jeffrey SmithIndiana Magazine of History, Vol. 100, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 2004), pp. 263-264Published by: Trustees of Indiana UniversityStable URL: .Accessed: 25/06/2014 00:15</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>Trustees of Indiana University and Indiana University Department of History are collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to Indiana Magazine of History.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:15:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>REVIEWS 263 </p><p>greater parity before 1970 strains the </p><p>issue. </p><p>Although early river modification </p><p>programs were unable to reverse a </p><p>downward trend of river commerce, </p><p>the nine-foot channel has opened the </p><p>upper river to considerable barge traffic. It has also completed a major overhaul of the natural river. While </p><p>obviously sympathetic to the river's </p><p>environment, Afinson ends optimis </p><p>tically by pointing out that the most </p><p>recent transformation has benefitted </p><p>habitat and water quality as part of an ecologically sensitive river man </p><p>agement program. Americans, he ar </p><p>gues, are "unwilling to accept either </p><p>the loss of the river's ecosystem or the </p><p>loss of the river as a transportation </p><p>artery" (p. 292). Fulfilling this dual </p><p>expectation is the challenge faced by river managers. </p><p>Craig E. Colten is a professor of ge </p><p>ography at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. His books include The American Environment: Interpretations </p><p>of Past Geographies (1992, co-editor), </p><p>Transforming New Orleans and its En </p><p>virons: Centuries of Change (2000, edi </p><p>tor), and "An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature" </p><p>(forthcoming in 2005). </p><p>Baseball Fever </p><p>Early Baseball in Michigan </p><p>By Peter Morris </p><p>(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003. Pp. , 300. Illustrations, notes, appendices, select bibliography, indices. Clothbound, $55.00; paperbound, $24.95.) </p><p>What was there about baseball (given the number of urban eastern fads to </p><p>fizzle in the Midwest), asks Peter </p><p>Morris in his new study of baseball in Michigan, that allowed it to catch on west of the Appalachians, and how </p><p>did it happen? Morris is interested in </p><p>discerning how baseball evolved dur </p><p>ing a critical period in its history? the two decades preceding the found </p><p>ing of the National League in Febru </p><p>ary 1876?by deeply examining one </p><p>distinct area (in this case, the state of </p><p>Michigan). Michigan is a good choice in many respects. The state was home </p><p>to enough towns with sufficient popu </p><p>lations, a large city (Detroit) that did not overpower the others, and enough fairs and other events to generate </p><p>plenty of tournaments and spectators. </p><p>This work demonstrates that baseball was becoming a "national sport" well </p><p>before the advent of the first all-pro fessional team in 1869. </p><p>Baseball reflected much about the tension between American ideals and </p><p>reality, as Morris demonstrates. Seen </p><p>as a country boys' game that was still </p><p>played in idyllic settings of green grass and fresh air, the sport fit into the </p><p>Jeffersonian ideal of an agricultural nation. However, it gained popular </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:15:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>264 INDIANA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY </p><p>ity in the East and Detroit alike. Ini </p><p>tially played by either elites or the </p><p>upwardly mobile in cities under the most gentlemanly of rules, it quickly became a game in which youth, strength, and speed mattered far more </p><p>than courtesy on the field; imagine, if </p><p>you will, Roger Clemens apologizing for throwing a close pitch to Mike Piazza?as he might have in 1857, </p><p>pitching for the Detroit Franklins. While initially a mere game played by clubs for fun and occasionally to de termine who paid for dinner, baseball became a game where men pursued more tangible gains. </p><p>While focusing primarily on games and tournaments, Morris is clearly </p><p>interested in figuring out why this elitist game, played by and for real or </p><p>aspiring gentlemen, soon appealed to a broader base of spectators. For one </p><p>thing, the old chivalry fell by the way side within just a few years of the end of the Civil War, replaced by a greater </p><p>emphasis on winning. Professional </p><p>ization shifted the focus to finances, </p><p>recruiting players, and gaining com </p><p>petitive edges. Soon the playing field was enclosed and spectators were </p><p>charged for admission. Paradoxically, this trend helped baseball build a sense of community among specta </p><p>tors. Interestingly, local fans were </p><p>even willing to tolerate imported pro fessional players and ringers on their own teams so long as they won games </p><p>and beat their rivals in neighboring towns, suggesting that rooting for the </p><p>local team created a greater sense of </p><p>community. Morris describes a pro cess whereby baseball became a tool in building boosterism, community competitive spirit, and a sense of be </p><p>longing, as playing and watching ball </p><p>games spread from town to town and from fathers to sons. </p><p>This book uses pre-National League baseball as a prism through which to see the dovetailing of emerg </p><p>ing Gilded Age values with changing views about leisure and play. This </p><p>story would be lost had Morris tried to tackle it on a scale any larger than that of a state, because the nuances </p><p>of local competition and of the ebb and flow of popularity would be bur ied under the story of emerging pro fessional teams, as is the case with </p><p>most histories of baseball during this </p><p>period. The book might have been shortened by omitting the lists of </p><p>players or by summarizing the results of yearly tournaments, but it would have lost its appeal as a closely de tailed case study of the way in which baseball became the "national pas time." </p><p>Jeffrey Smith is professor of history at Lindenwood University in St. </p><p>Charles, Missouri. He has written ex </p><p>tensively on the history of baseball, </p><p>particularly on the relationship be tween progressive reform and the rise of industrial league teams. He lives in </p><p>St. Louis, three miles from Busch Sta dium. </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:15:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p><p>Article Contentsp. 263p. 264</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsIndiana Magazine of History, Vol. 100, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 2004), pp. i-iv, 215-290Front MatterViolence and the Rights of African Americans in Civil War-Era Indiana: The Case of James Hays [pp. 215-230]"Go West, young man!"An Elusive Slogan [pp. 231-242]The Firebombing of the Terre Haute Holocaust Museum: A Hoosier Community Responds to an Assault on Collective Memory [pp. 243-257]REVIEWSReview: untitled [pp. 258-260]Review: untitled [pp. 260-261]Review: untitled [pp. 261-263]Review: untitled [pp. 263-264]Review: untitled [pp. 265-266]Review: untitled [pp. 266-268]Review: untitled [pp. 268-270]Review: untitled [pp. 270-272]Review: untitled [pp. 272-273]Review: untitled [pp. 273-274]Review: untitled [pp. 274-276]Review: untitled [pp. 276-278]Review: untitled [pp. 278-279]Review: untitled [pp. 279-281]Review: untitled [pp. 281-283]Review: untitled [pp. 283-285]</p><p>REVIEW NOTICES [pp. 286-290]Back Matter</p></li></ul>