Jews and Baseball: Volume 1, Entering the American Mainstream, 1871-1948

McFarland & Company  2006

 

This book is a double or triple, not a home run. There are too many routine errors— seventy eight doubles for Jonah Goldman in 1930 would have been a big-league record, but the real total was eighteen. “Subway Sam” Nahem becomes “Broadway Sam” in a caption. The authors also have a tendency to gush: There’s nothing “amazing” about Morrie Arnovich hitting .324 in 1939 (fifth in the league), but the feat is described as such. And it’s problematic to see Wikipedia cited so often as a source in the Moe Berg article, particularly since the myths surrounding the catcher-turned-spy are more than a little overblown.

Still, there is no denying the book’s appeal. The Boxermans have chased down some delightfully obscure characters and made an effort to focus on all aspects of the game—players, owners, journalists, umpires, statisticians. It is always great to see a concise description of Hank Greenberg’s Hall of Fame career, but it’s also fascinating to see how many players worked so long and hard to play a mere handful games in the majors— or even just one. The authors’ love of baseball carries the day and makes this a worthwhile read for fans of the sport. Bibliography, footnotes, and index.

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