Larceny and Old Leather: The Mischievous Legacy of Major League Baseball

Overview

Every baseball player from little league to the big leagues knows it is illegal to steal signs, yet every major league team assigns someone to do just that.

      Baseball thrives on trickery and deception.  But as our oldest major team sport, its larcenous legacy goes much deeper than the field of play. 

      In LARCENY AND OLD LEATHER: THE MISCHIEVOUS LEGACY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, Eldon Ham-sports lawyer, professor, and author-traces the game's ...

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Larceny and Old Leather: The Mischievous Legacy of Major League

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Overview

Every baseball player from little league to the big leagues knows it is illegal to steal signs, yet every major league team assigns someone to do just that.

      Baseball thrives on trickery and deception.  But as our oldest major team sport, its larcenous legacy goes much deeper than the field of play. 

      In LARCENY AND OLD LEATHER: THE MISCHIEVOUS LEGACY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, Eldon Ham-sports lawyer, professor, and author-traces the game's lesser-known, roguish past.  His wry chapters, filled with anecdotes and statistics, expose both the hidden and the obvious cheating occurring throughout baseball's history, from corked bats and spitballs to betting and media hyperbole. 

      Here is a book for both seasoned baseball fans and neophytes who'd like to get a look at the game that evolved into an industry.  Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa, Pete Rose, and many other lesser known players make their appearance in this fascinating history, as Ham seeks not only to chronicle the legacy of deception inherent within the game, but also to explore why it is, and how it is, that this deception is exactly what makes baseball the most endearing of American games.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Larceny and Old Leather is a unique, informative, and often humorous glimpse into some of the secret and not-so-secret dirty tricks, thefts, vaudeville pranks and just plain cheating that dot the long, colorful history of America's most beloved game." — Chicago Tribune
Publishers Weekly
Chronicling baseball's history from the early 20th century through the present, Ham (The 100 Greatest Sports Blunders of All Time) takes a close look at all aspects of the sport to find instances where the players, management and even the umpires weren't on the up-and-up. The author, a lawyer by trade, presents a strong case that baseball has had a naughty side since its inception, when the game's anti-Victorian tobacco-spitting, sweaty, sometimes wayward players were seen as a throwback to the American industrialists, adventurers, and entrepreneurs who built the nation. The book presents a wide range of examples of baseball's larcenous side, although they're sometimes haphazardly organized. They vary from observations on the game's psychological aspects (the art of pitching flows... from one common principle: deception) to some of its humorous moments (minor leaguer Bill Bresnahan firing a red-seamed potato down to third base, a trick that later got him fired) to its unforgivable past (the game's exclusion of black players until 1947). Most of these stories have been told before, but Ham does an admirable job collecting them into one volume for trivia-obsessed baseball fans. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Major league baseball has long been a game of deception and dishonest practices, and here sports lawyer Ham (The 100 Greatest Sports Blunders of All Time) gives us a litany of the game's crimes and misdemeanors, from the early 20th century to today: doctored bats and balls, stolen signs, thrown games, and faulty records. With equal parts humor and dead seriousness, he exposes the villains of the game-Judge Landis, Hal Chase, Ty Cobb, and the so-called Black Sox-as well as its victims (blacks, Hank Greenberg-even Cobb himself). An index helps sort through the field of names and games. Curiously, though he touches briefly on the current steroids scandal, he neglects to cover the honored art of base stealing. Still, the book is a radically humorous, enjoyable read. Fun if not vital for public library readers.-Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Lib., Tucson, AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897335331
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Eldon L. Ham has taught sports law at Chicago-Kent College of Law since 1994 and was one of the first lawyers to challenge the NFL's drug policy in court ("Richard Dent v. NFL", 1988). He is the sports legal analyst for WSCR sports radio in Chicago and has appeared on dozens of radio stations coast to coast as a sports lawyer, expert, and historian. He is also the author of The Playmasters: From Sellouts to Lockouts an Unauthorized History of the NBA; Larceny & Old Leather: The Mischievous Legacy of Major League Baseball; and Broadcasting Baseball: A History of the National Pastime on Radio and Television. He lives near Chicago.
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