Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball since 1921 [NOOK Book]

Overview

To most Americans, baseball is just a sport; but to those who own baseball teams--and those who play on them--our national pastime is much more than a game. In this book, Robert Burk traces the turbulent labor history of American baseball since 1921. His comprehensive, readable account details the many battles between owners and players that irrevocably altered the business of baseball.

During what Burk calls baseball's "paternalistic era," ...
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Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball since 1921

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Overview

To most Americans, baseball is just a sport; but to those who own baseball teams--and those who play on them--our national pastime is much more than a game. In this book, Robert Burk traces the turbulent labor history of American baseball since 1921. His comprehensive, readable account details the many battles between owners and players that irrevocably altered the business of baseball.

During what Burk calls baseball's "paternalistic era," from 1921 to the early 1960s, the sport's management rigidly maintained a system of racial segregation, established a network of southern-based farm teams that served as a captive source of cheap replacement labor, and crushed any attempts by players to create collective bargaining institutions. In the 1960s, however, the paternal order crumbled, eroded in part by the civil rights movement and the competition of television. As a consequence, in the "inflationary era" that followed, both players and umpires established effective unions that successfully pressed for higher pay, pensions, and greater occupational mobility--and then fought increasingly bitter struggles to hold on to these hard-won gains.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As he chronicles the history of baseball's labor movement . . . Burk focuses on the major people . . . a focus that significantly animates his heavily detailed narrative.
Andrew Zimbalist
Burk has given us a penetrating and savvy history of baseball's turbulent labor relations.
Choice
This book is a rich addition to the literature on the social and economic history of our national pastime for scholar and fan alike.
USA Today Baseball Weekly
The second and concluding volume in Burk's business history of baseball covers the seismic changes that have affected the game, from the tenure of judge Landis through modern issues that continue to cause confrontation between ownership and the players.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As a microcosm of society, organized baseball has survived its share of battles over racism, pay inequity, unionizing and scandals. Here, Burk, chair of the history department at Muskingum College, follows up Never Just a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball to 1920 with an in-depth look at the sport as a business from its post-WWI golden age to beyond the 1994 players' strike. With the increasing globalization of baseball, Burk argues for a future of greater economic predictability and increased on-field-off-field cooperation ("the players' own interests might prove best served by agreeing to a new partnership in which labor peace and a formal coequal role in industry decisions was gained in exchange for accepting reasonable leaguewide minimum and maximum payrolls"). The author divides the past 80 years into two discrete periods: the first, the "paternalistic era," and the second, the "inflationary era," which began when baseball, and the nation, were forever changed by the civil rights movement and a generation unafraid to question authority. As he chronicles the history of baseball's labor movement (the section describing the conditions minority players had to endure in the '40s and '50s is especially interesting), Burk focuses on the major people like Curtis Flood, who accused the league of conspiracy when he was traded, and Fay Vincent, who alienated players and team owners during his reign as baseball commissioner a focus that significantly animates his heavily detailed narrative. (Mar. 5) Forecast: Although primed for publication just before Opening Day 2001, Burk's exhaustive analysis is geared for a keen but ultimately small readership among the legions of baseball book-buying enthusiasts; despite its energetic title, stores should anticipate only modest sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Burk (history, Muskingum Coll.) has written a companion to his Never Just a Game: Players, Owners and American Baseball to 1920. Burk focuses on baseball's volatile labor history, contrasting the "paternalistic era" of 1921 through the early 1960s (which was often bleak and unfair to many players) with the seeming prosperity of current times. In these days of escalating salaries and costs and the friction that exists between players and management, this book provides scholarly background. Libraries featuring comprehensive sports and/or labor relations collections should consider. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
This book is a rich addition to the literature on the social and economic history of our national pastime for scholar and fan alike. (Choice)

The second and concluding volume in Burk's business history of baseball covers the seismic changes that have affected the game, from the tenure of judge Landis through modern issues that continue to cause confrontation between ownership and the players. (USA Today Baseball Weekly)

In these days of escalating salaries and costs and the friction that exists between players and management, this book provides scholarly background. Libraries featuring comprehensive sports and/or labor relations collections should consider. (Library Journal)

Burk has given us a penetrating and savvy history of baseball's turbulent labor relations. (Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College)

As he chronicles the history of baseball's labor movement . . . Burk focuses on the major people . . . a focus that significantly animates his heavily detailed narrative. (Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807875377
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/14/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,293,407
  • Lexile: 1600L (what's this?)
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Robert F. Burk, whose previous books include the award-winning Never Just a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball to 1920, is professor and chair of the history department at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

Preface

Although we prefer to see baseball as a game we play or watch for recreation, from almost the beginning it has been a labor-intensive industry whose on-field personnel constitute both the entertainment product we enjoy and men engaged in doing their job. At the very heart of this labor-intensive business has been the struggle between on-field employees and management over access to its opportunities, workplace rights, and overarching both of these, administering the industry and defining the relationship—paternalistic, adversarial, or cooperative—between the two sides. This history can be divided into three main eras. The first—examined in my previous volume, Never Just a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball to 1920—is most accurately viewed as the "trade war era" and lasted from the formation of intercity cartels, most notably the National League, in the 1870s through World War I. The two subsequent periods—the subject of this study—stretched from the 1920s to the 1960s and from the 1960s to the present day and can be described as the "paternalistic" and "inflationary" eras (see Appendix, Fig. 1). Although each era featured the general issues mentioned above, the answers reached and the labor relationship forged differed in significant ways.

industry, the search also led to efforts to standardize playing rules to strike the most profitable balance between player productivity, fan attendance, and labor-cost pressures. It also led to the dominant cartel developing working agreements with lesser leagues to secure an ongoing source of white playing talent, while systematically excluding in Jim Crow fashion baseball aspirants of color.

the demographic shift to the Sun Belt. As a consequence, baseball late in the era reluctantly reversed itself and began to integrate racially its playing ranks, and it also grudgingly adopted a system of player representation, a pension plan, and a minimum wage for its big league performers. Although the era began with the quarter-century commissionership of Kenesaw Landis, the individual most representative of the entire period and its series of labor policy adjustments was not Landis but Branch Rickey—champion of the farm system, the first big league executive to proceed with integration, and a pioneer late in the era in the scouting and recruitment of Latin American playing talent.

decades, by the late 1990s the two sides had battled themselves nearly to exhaustion and had risked killing the "golden goose" that had laid so many mutually profitable "eggs." As a new century loomed, baseball management and labor nervously eyed each other and wondered whether the millennium would bring a new round of combat or the start of a brighter era of enlightened partnership and global expansion.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Part I. The Paternalistic Era: The Age of Rickey
Chapter 1. A New Era, 1921-1929
Chapter 2. Working on a Chain Gang, 1930-1940
Chapter 3. War and Revolution, 1940-1949
Chapter 4. Men in Gray Flannel Suits, 1950-1965
Part II. The Inflationary Era: The Age of Miller
Chapter 5. Miller Time, 1966-1972
Chapter 6. Star Wars, 1973-1979
Chapter 7. The Empire Strikes Back, 1980-1988
Chapter 8. Armageddon, 1989-1999
Appendix
Notes
Bibliographic Essay
Index
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