Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire

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Overview

Inspired and led by sporting magnate Albert Goodwill Spalding, two teams of baseball players circled the globe for six months in 1888-1889 competing in such far away destinations as Australia, Sri Lanka and Egypt. These players, however, represented much more than mere pleasure-seekers. In this lively narrative, Zeiler explores the ways in which the Spalding World Baseball Tour drew on elements of cultural diplomacy to inject American values and power into the international arena. Through his chronicle of baseball history, games, and experiences, Zeiler explores expressions of imperial dreams through globalization's instruments of free enterprise, webs of modern communication and transport, cultural ordering of races and societies, and a strident nationalism that galvanized notions of American uniqueness. Spalding linked baseball to a U.S. presence overseas, viewing the world as a market ripe for the infusion of American ideas, products and energy. Through globalization during the Gilded Age, he and other Americans penetrated the globe and laid the foundation for an empire formally acquired just a decade after their tour.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pro ballplayers playing exhibitions in the distant East, the sport beset by labor strife as management uses cutting-edge technologies to sell the game to an international audience. Sounds like last week, right? How about 1888? The common gripe runs that baseball is now too dominated by business priorities-but according to Zeiler, a history professor at the University of Colorado, things weren't any different 118 years ago. The first great evangelist of baseball, equipment manufacturer Albert Spalding sought to spread the largely eastern and midwestern pastime to every corner of the world, planning a westward winter tour of all-star teams, starting Down Under, then moving to Egypt, and ending with a Grand Tour of Europe. Zeiler's sober academic treatment includes discussions of labor strife, racial hierarchies and what might be called proto-globalism. Even if the subtitle overreaches, isolating the roots of internationalism for our "national" pastime isn't as absurd as it sounds: after all, at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the U.S.A. was outdone by Australia and Italy-both stops on Spalding's tour. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
CHOICE
A thorough account of the then-unprecedented world baseball tour orchestrated by Albert Spalding (1888-89), relating to the heightened influence of the U.S. in international affairs. Recommended.
The Hawaiian Journal Of History
Zeiler appears not to have missed a beat in his collection of relevant articles and books.
Choice
A thorough account of the then-unprecedented world baseball tour orchestrated by Albert Spalding (1888-89), relating to the heightened influence of the U.S. in international affairs. Recommended.
The International History Review
This is an interesting, well-conceived, ably contextualized, and accessibly written contribution to the literature of both US sport and cultural history....Zeiler is to be commended.
American Historical Review
The book provides a very accessible, vivid, and fascinating . . . account of the 'greatest trip in the annals of sport,' the mysterious journeys of present-day baseball Marco Polos included.
Bruce Kuklick
In 1888-89 two teams of professional baseball players squared off against one another on an international tour that included games in Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, and England. In this delightful book, Thomas Zeiler tells the story of this tour and puts it in the context of the imperial expansion of the United States that was so much a part of our diplomacy at the end of the 19th century. On the one hand, this is baseball history for adults. On the other, it is a painless — even pleasurable — way to introduce students to the global foreign policy that Americans would implement thereafter.
Marc Gallicchio
Join “Big Al” Spalding and his Base Ball tourists on their globetrotting mission to make America’s pastime into the world’s game. You won’t regret the trip. Thomas Zeiler draws on the most recent scholarship on such subjects as globalization, gender, tourism, sports history, and race, to show how Spalding’s mission was America’s mission in all of its idealistic self-interested complexity. Highly informative and fun to read, Ambassadors in Pinstripes is an ideal book for courses on U.S. Foreign Relations, Sports History, and Gilded Age America.
March 2008 The International History Review
This is an interesting, well-conceived, ably contextualized, and accessibly written contribution to the literature of both US sport and cultural history....Zeiler is to be commended.
Jules Tygiel
Ambassadors in Pinstripes captures the excitement and drama of Albert Spalding's audacious baseball tour of the world. Thomas Zeiler has woven a narrative that is part travelogue, part tour book, part baseball history, and, at the same time, an incisive critique of late nineteenth century imperialism. He offers the reader a real sense of both baseball and Americans abroad in the Victorian Era.
March 2008 American Historical Review
The book provides a very accessible, vivid, and fascinating . . . account of the 'greatest trip in the annals of sport,' the mysterious journeys of present-day baseball Marco Polos included.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742551688
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 9/22/2006
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas W. Zeiler is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of Unconditional Defeat: Japan, America, and the End of World War II, Free Trade, Free World: The Advent of GATT, Dean Rusk: Defending the American Mission Abroad and co-author of Globalization and the American Century.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Baseball, Globalization, and Empire 2 Marketing: Albert Spalding's Chicago 3 Movement: The American West 4 An Empire of Race: Southern Seas 5 Old and New World Cultures: Europe 6 National Identity: Return to America 7 Conclusion: Imperial Imagination 8 Bibliography

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