Big Leagues: Professional Baseball, Football, and Basketball in National Memory / Edition 1

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What is behind America’s enduring love affair with professional baseball, football, and basketball? Big Leagues traces the evolution of these team sports from unlikely beginnings to multibillion-dollar businesses that still arouse widespread passion. We love these sports, Fox argues, because they evolve within long, repeating cycles that leave them stable at their cores. Ballplayers, like their games, don’t change much. They remain children with a ball and juvenile in their attitudes toward sex, drink, and drugs, as well as toward superstitions and practical jokes.

Fox candidly illustrates the shenanigans of old-time and newer players, contradicts some accepted wisdom on the origins and early histories of the games, and includes a controversial account of the history of black athletes in America. He also surveys the world of fandom, examines the “big money” explosion, and dares to project the future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collection of nine original essays on America's major spectator sports by the author of Blood and Power contains much information that even dedicated fans are unlikely to know. In the first piece, ``Going Airborne,'' Fox makes the point that all three games increased their popularity when they got the ball off the ground via the home run, forward pass and jump shot. Other chapters examine fandom, the impact of black athletes in speeding up game play and what Fox terms ``National Teams,'' the Yankees of the '20s and '30s, the Green Bay Packers and the Boston Celtics of the '60s. He gives brief but nonetheless comprehensive histories of the three sports and concludes with ``Big Money,'' showing the effects of booze, drugs and unlimited, freely available sex on individuals from economically deprived backgrounds. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Historian Fox (Blood and Power, LJ 7/89) explores the past and present endeavors of America's three dominant professional sports. He opens by asserting that the coming of the aerial game-baseball's home run, football's forward pass, and basketball's jump shot-revolutionalized each sport. He capsulizes each sport's history, citing the input of fans and the arrival and acceptance of black athletes. He salutes baseball's New York Yankees, football's Green Bay Packers, and basketball's Boston Celtics as the all-time biggest winners. Concluding with his view of today's big money and drug problems, Fox gives an appealing story that any sports collection will find useful.-Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Medical Lib., Tucson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803268968
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Edition description: Bison Book
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 508
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Fox is an independent scholar who lives in Massachusetts. He has written such highly praised books as The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators and Blood and Power: Organized Crime in Twentieth-Century America.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Sports Time and Historical Time 11
Ch. 1 Going Airborne: The Cycles of Sports History 15
Ch. 2 Fans: A Sense of Belonging 62
Ch. 3 Ballplaying Life: Staying Young 103
Ch. 4 Baseball: "This Well Known and Old Fashioned Game" 168
Ch. 5 Football: Variations on Campball 210
Ch. 6 Basketball: A Scientific Game 261
Ch. 7 Black Power, Black Speed 300
Ch. 8 National Teams: Yankees, Packers, Celtics 349
Ch. 9 Big Money 417
Acknowledgments 449
Manuscript Collections 451
Notes 453
Index 505
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