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Play Ball!: The Story of Little League Baseball?

Overview

On any given spring evening, 360,000 children around the world can be found on the dusty mounds and grassy fields of a Little League field. With more than four million people playing or volunteering in Little League games every year, Little League is the institutional rite of passage into the quintessential American pastime.

Play Ball! charts Little League’s history from the earliest days and shows how, in many respects, its history parallels America’s history. A microcosm of ...

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Overview

On any given spring evening, 360,000 children around the world can be found on the dusty mounds and grassy fields of a Little League field. With more than four million people playing or volunteering in Little League games every year, Little League is the institutional rite of passage into the quintessential American pastime.

Play Ball! charts Little League’s history from the earliest days and shows how, in many respects, its history parallels America’s history. A microcosm of American society, Little League reflects, and is affected by, cultural, political and historical trends. Today, Little League is played on 12,000 fields in every U.S. state and in 103 other countries on six continents, and The Little League Baseball World Series, played annually in Williamsport, is watched by crowds of 40,000 each year in person, and by more than ten million on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

The authors were given full access to the Little League Baseball archives and have created a fully illustrated and comprehensive history. Play Ball! contains appendixes including winners of all Little League Baseball and Softball World Series, a year-by-year history of Little League, countries in Little League, and lists of some of the famous people who played the game as children, including Kevin Costner, Mark McGwire, and George W. Bush.

Play Ball! will interest parents, former players and coaches, fans of Little League Baseball, general baseball enthusiasts, and anyone who has ever picked up a ball and bat.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Play Ball! is a delightful walk down the storied history of Little League Baseball. For those of us who played the dreams of our youth, it brings back mighty memories. For those of us reluctant adults who still dream, it’s a wonderful reminder of what might have been.”
—John Grisham

Play Ball! is the best account of the evolution of Little League Basebll now available. The Van Aukens’ work is clearly written, profusely illustrated, attractively designed, and full of valuable appendices. Not only will readers who have or have had children in Little League Baseball enjoy the Van Aukens’ efforts, but so will readers interested in baseball generally. Theirs is a handy reference book which is fun to read or simply to thumb through.”
—G.S. Rowe, Pennsylvania History

“The Van Aukens’ book is a straightforward account of a mountain of facts, including those describing the organization’s rocky times. Foremost among these are its split with Little League founder Carl Stotz and lawsuits involving gender-related issues.”
—Ross Atkin, Christian Science Monitor

“Did you know that George W. was a Little Leaguer? More to the point, humorist Dave Barry is also a graduate of Little League, and he writes an amusing introduction to a solid book about this American institution. Little League has now been around for more than half a century, and this new history fills a gap in library collections that often focus solely on major league baseball history. This well-illustrated, popularly written account should be on the shelves of every library that serves a community with a Little League team.”
Library Journal

Play Ball! with its extensive and quite useful appendices, is a slice of Americana, topped with a dollop or two of social conscience, historical context, and self-promotion, followed by a healthy dose of nostalgia. A follow-up, or the second game of a possible publishing double-header, might consist of the memoirs of former Little Leaguers. that, like its predecessor, would likely be a sure hit.”
—S. Michael Dewey, Aethlon

“It’s funny: after 40 years, I can’t remember much else about a lot of the boys I grew up with, but if you give me one of their names, I can usually remember what Little League team he played on.”
—Dave Barry.

Library Journal
Do you know that George W. was a Little Leaguer? More to the point, humorist Dave Barry is also a graduate of Little League, and he writes an amusing introduction to a solid book about this American institution. Little League has now been around for more than half a century, and this new history fills a gap in library collections that often focus solely on major league baseball history. This well-illustrated, popularly written account should be on the shelves of every library that serves a community with a Little League team. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
The Van Aukens (formerly a sportswriter, Lance is now director of media relations for Little League; Robin is an editor and journalist) researched the Little League archives to produce this well-illustrated history. Readers will learn of the founding and development of the league, its spread to 103 countries, the history of the Little League World Series, the careers of famous Little Leaguers as adults (in politics as well as baseball), and the lengthy legal battle of girls persisting to be included. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
Play Ball!: The Story Of Little League Baseball is a comprehensive and profusely illustrated history of a quintessentially American approach to organized recreation for children. Beginning with its debut in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1939 when Carl Stotz, once having agreed to a game of catch with his nephews who were to young to play organized baseball ended up a year later with having created company a business community sponsored, three-team league baseball team for kids. The first official Little League game was played at Park Point in Williamsport on June 6, 1939, launching an organized team sport phenomenon that continues down to the present day. Play Ball! discusses such historically relevant issues as racial and gender equity (devoting an entire chapter to the struggle for girls to participate in the organization) and Carl Stotz split with Little League that still divides the community of Williamsport where it all began. The informative text is enhanced with appendices that include the winners of all Little League Baseball and Softball World Series; a year-by-year history of Little League; countries in Little League; as well as lists and pictures of some of the famous people who played the game as children. Play Ball! is very highly recommended and informative reading for all Little League fans!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271024028
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Series: A Keystone Book ?
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Lance Van Auken is Senior Communications Executive for Little League Baseball. He joined Little League in 1993 as its Southern Region assistant director. A Little League player from age seven to eighteen, he also has volunteered since 1980 as an umpire, manager, coach, and league vice-president.

Robin Van Auken is an editor and writer. She also owns a literary agency, The Omnibus.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2003

    A Mom who watched her children play

    As a mom (one who really hates baseball), but watched every game her children played in, I was given a copy of this book as a gift. After reading it I had a better understanding of the game and what it means to not only the children who play now, but the children in all of us who can remember fondly those by-gone days, or the parents who will remember with a smile their childs first hit andt he complete joy on their faces. The pictures were excellent and the timeline well laid out. Anyone who really enjoys the game for what it is (a safe place for all our children to play and grow) will enjoy owning a copy of this book. It also makes a great sports collectable.After we finished reading the book my husband (a big sports fan) now takes it to baseball shows to get it signed by the big time ballplayers, who once played little leauge and are pictured in that book. They get a kick out of both seeing the book and signing it. It give us something special to pass down to our children who played.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2001

    Explains everything Little League means to America

    First of all the pictures were fantastic. The authors did a top-notch job filling the book with hundreds of fascinating graphics from the earliest days to just a year ago. Stories were revealed inside that gave me and my family a deeper appreciation for the game and what it has meant to not only my children but millions of others around the world. Great reading...great fun for all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2001

    Little League Fan for 60 years

    Does anyone read these reviews? I haven't seen any reviews published here from anyone except the publisher and people interested in promoting this book. If a book is a disappointment and a person takes the time to write and let you and others know, then you are providing a service by printing their comments, ( the bad as well as the good) otherwise why bother?? I was DISAPPOINTED in this book, and wish I had seen some reviews from readers other than the pros. review,

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