Baseball in the Garden of Eden

The Secret History of the Early Game

by John Thorn

Hardcover, 365 pages, Simon & Schuster, List Price: $26 | purchase

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Title
Baseball in the Garden of Eden
Subtitle
The Secret History of the Early Game
Author
John Thorn

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Book Summary

Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Did baseball even have a father—or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball's preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling, a proxy form of class warfare. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts andPhiladelphia. He shows how the sport's increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. Full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes, this book tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed—all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime.—From publisher description.

NPR stories about Baseball in the Garden of Eden

Jack Clements, a player on the Philadelphia Quakers, poses at a photography studio in Boston in the days before players carried mitts onto the baseball diamond. Gray/New York Public Library hide caption

itoggle caption Gray/New York Public Library