Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball


Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I will ask Maribou to pick up a copy tonight.Report

  2. Avatar Tracy Downey says:

    I’m all about supporting authors. This is great, Richard baseball is my favorite sport God willing the Cubs or the A’s do better this year than last I live in hope. My brother would get a kick out of a book like this.👍🏻Report

  3. Avatar Maribou says:

    Congrats, man. I look forward to reading it.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    This looks great.

    Funny that the forward is by John Thorn. I was just arguing with him on Twitter about the definition of “Major League”. My contention is that part of it is stability; a league isn’t major if franchises are going in and out of business every year, so the NL wasn’t one until at least 1887.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Keep in mind that John can take you down with a flick of his left pinkie…

      As for the definition of “major league,” my preferred definition is in terms of hierarchy of organized baseball. In other words, a major league isn’t a minor league. What this means in practice evolved a lot over the years, but in general a major league can boss a minor league around and steal its players and territories with impunity, unless the major league has seen fit to strike some deal with the minor league. The earliest version of this system dates to 1877, so if you are looking for an argument that the NL wasn’t a major in 1876, it is that the term was meaningless at that time.

      Of course in practice the argument is about which records we pay attention to, and which we can comfortably ignore. This is a terrible way to approach to baseball history, but it is the subtext to these discussions. In reaction, my instinct is to be broadly inclusive when considering which were major leagues, rather than give people permission to ignore this stuff and go back to arguing about whether Cobb was racist and should Rose be in the Hall of Fame.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        “Records we pay attention to” argues that the American Association of 1882-1991 wasn’t a major league, even though it played the NL pretty evenly. No player has ever made it near the Hall of Fame for his achievements there, and none ever will.Report

        • The Hall of Fame is a terrible place to look to for history. The attached museum is pretty good, and the attached research library is excellent. But the Hall itself–the pseudo-Greek temple with the plaques? Best to discreetly avert your gaze.

          Nobody who seriously works the 19th century field dismisses the AA. That is a discussion restricted to people who think “early baseball” means Ty Cobb. That is, however, also the crowd that votes on the Hall of Fame, and it always has been. The initial class of inductees were all 20th century guys. Only reluctantly did they go back later and add 19th century guys, and they half-assed it. This has not changed since.Report