Stealing Games

Stealing Games

How John McGraw Transformed Baseball With the 1911 New York Giants

Book - 2016
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The 1911 New York Giants stole an astonishing 347 bases, a record that still stands more than a century later. That alone makes them special in baseball history, but as Maury Klein relates in Stealing Games they also embodied a rapidly changing America on the cusp of a faster, more frenetic pace of life dominated by machines, technology, and urban culture.

Baseball, too, was evolving from the dead-ball to the live-ball era--the cork-centered ball was introduced in 1910 and structurally changed not only the outcome of individual games but the way the game itself was played, requiring upgraded equipment, new rules, and new ways of adjudicating. Changing performance also changed the relationship between management and players. The Giants had two stars--the brilliant manager John McGraw and aging pitcher Christy Mathewson--and memorable characterssuch as Rube Marquard and Fred Snodgrass; yet their speed and tenacity led to three pennants in a row starting in 1911. Stealing Games gives a great team its due and underscores once more the rich connection between sports and culture.

Publisher: New York, NY : Bloomsbury Press, 2016.
ISBN: 9781632860248
1632860244
9781632860262
Branch Call Number: 796.357 KLEIN
Characteristics: xxxii, 366 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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PimaLib_NormS Apr 05, 2017

Baseball. History. Baseball history. These are three of my favorite subjects. In “Stealing Games: How John McGraw Transformed Baseball With the 1911 New York Giants”, Maury Klein delves into the story of, you guessed it, the 1911 New York Giants. It was the beginning of the so-called live ball era. Around this time, the baseball manufacturers started making balls with small cork centers, which made them a bit more lively. Most teams then played what is now called “small ball”, that is, teams tried to win by stealing bases, bunting the runners along, using the hit and run, running the bases aggressively, and putting the ball in play rather than swinging for home runs. Perhaps the Giants played this kind of game better than most. In 1911, they set a record for stolen bases by a team in one season. But to say that the 1911 Giants “transformed” baseball seems to be a bit of an overstatement. Champions transform their sports and, interestingly, the ’11 Giants did not win the World Series. In fact, they were in the midst of a World Series championship drought that lasted until 1921, so it may be an exaggeration to call them “transformative”. All of this is not to say that I didn’t like the book, though. I enjoyed reading about what baseball and ballplayers were like back then. There were some intriguing characters on that team, led by their fiery manager, John McGraw. “Stealing Games” is an engaging book for those that enjoy baseball and history, and baseball history.

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