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Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball

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Leonard Koppett

Nominee, Seymour Medal, 1999

"No one knows, understands, and interprets the history of major-league baseball so well as Leonard Koppett. He is a student of the game, and of most other aspects of life, and he knows how the one fits into the other. He also knows how to research, how to report, and how to write. He is perfectly equipped to write a rich, readable and reasonable history of the game."
Dick Schaap, ABC News

Koppett's Concise History provides an overview and explanation of all the major events and personalities that made baseball America's national game.

As early as the 1880s, many basic baseball strategies-pitching high and tight or low and away; first basemen lining up well wide of the base they were "covering"; throwing breaking balls and change-ups; bunting as well as swinging away-were already in use. But the history of the game is a story of changes that have been controversial for fans and players.

Leonard Koppett takes the reader through the long-standing back-and-forth over the balance between offense and defense-dead balls versus lively balls, changes in the strike zone and mound height, and arguments about competitive balance among teams in different eras. He explores the controversies over the introduction of night baseball, radio and TV broadcasting, the farm system, domed stadiums, the expansion draft to create ten-team leagues, divisional play-offs, franchise moves to new cities, and interleague play.

How baseball as business affects the nature of the game is an issue throughout the book. Whether he's talking about free agency, strike actions, or the policies of different commissioners and owners, Koppett is never afraid to say whose interests are being served.

A major portion of each chapter is devoted to Koppett's lively narratives of the shape and significance of each season from 1892 through 1995. On each point, Koppett has the facts, the stories, and an opinion about what works for the game and what doesn't.



Introduction: The Premise

Part I: Origins
1. Preliminaries
2. The National Association

Part II: The League
3. Chicago
4. Two Leagues
The Union Association
5. The Revolt of the Players
The Brotherhood • Seasons 1890-91
6. The Monopoly
Seasons 1892-99

Part III: The Majors
7. War
Seasons 1900-1902
8. Peace
The World Series • Ball Parks • Gambling • The Doubleday Myth • Outlaw Leagues and Player Relations • Seasons 1903-12
9. The Feds
Seasons 1913-15
10. Real War
Seasons 1916-18
11. The Blowup
Seasons 1919-21

Part IV: The Golden Age
12. Lively Ball Baseball
Selling the Offense • New Owners • Seasons 1922-25
13. The Commissioner
Seasons 1926-28
14. Boom and Bust
Hard Times • The Farm System • Yankees and As • Seasons 1929-33
15. An Age of Glory
The New Stars • Radio • Lights • The Hall of Fame • Farm Systems and Administration • "Break Up the Yankees!" • Seasons 1934-41

Part V: A Changing World
16. Wartime Baseball
Seasons 1942-45
17. The Stars Are Back-and on TV!
Integration • Commissioner Chandler • The Mexican League • Antitrust • Unionization • Ford Frick • Attendance • Television and Radio • Farm Systems • Veeck as in Wreck • The Pacific Coast League • Radio and the Minors • A New Yankee Dynasty • Boston to Milwaukee • Bonus Players • Seasons 1946-52
18. Movement
The Moves • The Frick Administration • The New New Stars • The Minors • Seasons 1953-57
19. Challenge
The Continental League • The Alternative • Seasons 1958-60

Part VI: Expansion
20. Ten-Team Leagues
Demographics • The New Teams • The New Parks • The New Commissioners • The New Schedule • The New Rules • The New Players Association • Seasons 1961-68
21. Divisions and Play-Offs
An Active Commissioner • An Active Union • The Flood Case • An Active Scene • Seasons 1969-72

Part VII: The New Age
22. Free Agency
The Designated Hitter • Arbitration • More Teams • The New Reserve System • Finley versus Kuhn • Progress • Seasons 1973-80
23. Strike Two
The Rest of the 1981 Season
24. Rolling in Money
Commissioner Turnover • The Labor Front • Drugs • Ownership Turnover • Seasons 1982-92
25. Strike Three
1993: Averting Disaster • 1994: Disaster • 1995: Picking Up the Pieces • Denouement

Afterword: The Summation

A. Commissioners and League Presidents
B. Franchises
C. Club Sales
D. Finances
E. Competitive Balance
F. Offensive Eras
G. Hitting
H. The Designated Hitter
I. Ball Parks
J. Player Awards
K. Why "Pitching Is the Name of the Game"


About the Author(s)

Leonard Koppett has been writing about baseball since the 1940s (his earliest memories include seeing Babe Ruth hit and John McGraw manage) for the New York City newspapers, the San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, and the Sporting News. He is the author of half a dozen baseball books, including The Man in the Dugout (Temple). Koppett is the only sportswriter named to the writers' wing of both the baseball and basketball Halls of Fame.

Subject Categories

General Interest



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