Louis Masur - Autumn Glory

If you like baseball, or history, you will love this book. It has been 100 years since the first World Series. No one who was around then is still with us now. But Masur brings the reader back to a place and time we can all mentally experience thanks to his skills as a writer and historian.

Every-other chapter is on a particular game of that first World Series, with the filler chapters being interesting tidbits about what happened before or during the season. The book isn't just about baseball though. There is plenty of politics and nostalgia for what life was like just after the turn of the century. Masur also shows how popular and public gambling was in those days. He frequently hints towards the Black Sox scandal, which wasn't to happen for sixteen more years. You can see that the environment would be ripe for such an occurrence even back in 1903. I wouldn't be surprised if a book on the subject is authored by Masur at some later date. If so, I will certainly read it.

You'll know much more about Honus Wagner than just his famous baseball card after reading this book. There are other little known facts about baseball from the era included: fans on the field during the game, the ground-rule triple, and the bands accompanying rooting sections are just a few. The drama, excitement, and atmosphere of the times and events are brought to life in Autumn Glory and shouldn't be missed. You'll likely consume this book in just a day or two, but the memory will remain.

from the publisher:
A postseason series of games to establish supremacy in the major leagues was not inevitable in the baseball world. But in 1903 the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (in the well-established National League) challenged the Boston Americans (in the upstart American League) to a play-off, which he was sure his team would win. They didn't -- and that wasn't the only surprise during what became the first World Series. In Autumn Glory, Louis P. Masur tells the riveting story of two agonizing weeks in which the stars blew it, unknown players stole the show, hysterical fans got into the act, and umpires had to hold on for dear life.

Before and even during the 1903 season, it had seemed that baseball might succumb to the forces that had been splintering the sport for decades: owners' greed, players' rowdyism, fans' unrest. Yet baseball prevailed, and Masur tells the dramatic story of how it did so, in a country preoccupied with labor strife and big-business ruthlessness, and anxious about the welfare of those crowding into cities such as Pittsburgh and Boston (which in themselves offered competing versions of the American dream). His colorful history of how the first World Series consolidated baseball's hold on the American imagination makes us see what one sportswriter meant when he wrote at the time, "Baseball is the melting pot at a boil, the most democratic sport in the world." All in all, Masur believes, it still is.

"Autumn Glory is a book to be savored in all seasons. Louis Masur vividly re-creates a bygone year not only of immortals such as Cy Young but also of forgotten diamond heroes with monikers such as Ginger Beaumont, Kitty Bransfield, and Noodles Hahn; a time when players rode to the stadium through cheering throngs in open barouches, and when inning after inning, derby-hatted, cigar-smoking fans waved red parasols and belted out music-hall ballads until their throats were raw." --William E. Leuchtenburg, William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina

"Autumn Glory brings one back to those halcyon days when players and owners alike eschewed money for honor, and when Boston actually used to win the World Series. An invaluable resource for all fans of the game." --Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

"This is a book that every baseball fan will enjoy. History-minded Americans will love it, too. It's a marvelous look at the Americans of 1903. What a great way to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Word Series!" --Thomas Fleming, author of The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II

"Louis Masur's Autumn Glory is the best-researched and most eloquent account of the first World Series yet written. He provides ample evidence why the first modern fall classic became a beloved American tradition." --Glenn Stout, coauthor of Red Sox Century

Louis P. Masur a professor of history at City College of New York and the editor of Reviews in American History, is the author of 1831: Year of Eclipse (Hill and Wang, 2001). He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.