Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball

( 3 )


"Scientific analysis intersects with flat-out fandom. [Gould] could write, he was funny, and he loved, loved baseball."—Booklist

Science meets sport in this vibrant collection of baseball essays by the late evolutionary biologist.Among Stephen Jay Gould's many gifts was his ability to write eloquently about baseball, his great passion. Through the years, the renowned paleontologist published numerous essays on the sport; these have now been collected in a volume alive with the ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$11.60 price
(Save 22%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (26) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $7.03   
  • Used (23) from $1.99   
Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 29%)$14.95 List Price


"Scientific analysis intersects with flat-out fandom. [Gould] could write, he was funny, and he loved, loved baseball."—Booklist

Science meets sport in this vibrant collection of baseball essays by the late evolutionary biologist.Among Stephen Jay Gould's many gifts was his ability to write eloquently about baseball, his great passion. Through the years, the renowned paleontologist published numerous essays on the sport; these have now been collected in a volume alive with the candor and insight that characterized all of Gould's writing. Here are his thoughts on the complexities of childhood streetball and the joys of opening day; tributes to Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and lesser-knowns such as deaf-mute centerfielder "Dummy" Hoy; and a frank admission of the contradictions inherent in being a lifelong Yankees fan with Red Sox season tickets. Gould also deftly applies the tools of evolutionary theory to the demise of the .400 hitter, the Abner Doubleday creation myth, and the improbability of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

This book is a delight, an essential addition to Gould's remarkable legacy, and a fitting tribute to his love for the game.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Science News
These writings show Gould's wonderful range of thought, devotion to his subject matter, and love of life.
Baltimore Sun
[Gould] rhapsodizes about the passion of intellectuals and boasts about his family's 'four generations of baseball rooting.— Paul Duke
New York Times
Makes it clear that [Gould] was as avid and knowledgeable about baseball as he was about paleontology.— Michiko Kakutani
Sacramento Bee
A winning combination of personal memoirs..., essays about players the author admired, scientific inquiries, and book reviews.
Sports Journal
A masterpiece....these 35 essays...are about as entertaining and informative as anything you'll read about baseball.— Dan Smith
Chicago Tribune
A jovial and eloquent fan of the game...[Gould] displays an appreciation for the game that goes beyond bell curves and bar charts.
Orlando Sentinal
[Gould's] take on Chuck Knoblauch's throwing problems is a hoot.— Phil Tatman
American Scientist
Gould is at his best when he uses his critical powers and statistical acumen to challenge speculation.
Atlanta Jewish News
A treat for any fan.
Dallas Sports Guide
Terrific....I've got no qualms at all in recommending this one.— Brad Stribling
San Diego Union-Tribune
Gould wrote as enthusiastically about baseball as he did about evolution....his best...essays on the game are gathered [here].— John Curtis
Elysian Fields Quarterly
A triple treat from the mind of a passionate fan, an incisive thinker, and a lucid writer.— Mark E Hayes
New York Times Book Review
Intellectual Windex for what David Wells splattered on us earlier this spring.— Alan Schwarz
Washington Post Book World
It is the lyrical...pieces in this collection that resonate most powerfully.— Jonathan Mahler
Blue Ridge Business Journal
A masterpiece in its own right.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325577
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/13/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 562,990
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Jay Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

David Halberstam (1934-2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author known for his early work on the Vietnam War, his work on politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and his later sports journalism.


Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould was arguably the leading science writer for the contemporary literate popular audience. His explications of evolutionary theory and the history of science are peppered with oddball cultural and historical references, from Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak to Catherine the Great's middle name. But Gould insisted that his work wasn't dumbed-down for nonscientists.

"I sort of operate at one end of what's called popular science," he told a Salon interviewer. "Not because I don't appreciate the other end, I just wouldn't do it well, somehow. But the end I operate on really doesn't sacrifice any complexity -- except complexity of language, of course, complexity of jargon. But I like to think that my stuff is as conceptually complex as I would know how to write it for professional audiences."

In 1972, Gould and fellow paleontologist Niles Eldredge shook up the field of evolutionary theory with their idea of "punctuated equilibrium," which suggests that the evolution of a species is not gradual and continual, but marked by long periods of stasis and brief bursts of change. Over the next several decades, Gould would continue to develop his critique of evolutionary theory, questioning assumptions about evolutionary progress and provoking debates with the likes of evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, philosopher Daniel Dennett and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

From early on in his career, Gould was interested in reviving the scientific essay, in the tradition of Galileo and Darwin. Gould began writing a series of monthly essays for Natural History, the magazine of the American Museum of Natural History. Published as "This View of Life," the well-received essays addressed a broad range of topics in the biological and geological sciences. In his essays, Gould not only explained scientific facts for the lay reader, he critiqued the shortcomings of certain scientific viewpoints and the cultural biases of particular scientists.

Armed with a historical view of evolutionary theory, he tackled the problem of human intelligence testing in The Mismeasure of Man (1981). The book won a National Book Critics' Circle Award, while a collection of essays, The Panda's Thumb (1980), won the American Book Award. Together the books established Gould's presence as one of the country's most prominent science writers.

Gould's popularity continued to widen with the publication of such unlikely bestsellers as Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1989), which challenged the notion that humans are the necessary endpoint of evolutionary history. "Not only does [Gould] always find something worth saying, he finds some of the most original ways of saying it," The New York Times said in its review of Bully for Brontosaurus (1993), another collection of essays.

In 1998, Gould was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his description of that office could apply to his whole life's work. He pledged to "make people less scared of science so they won't see it as arcane, monolithic, and distant, but as something that is important to their lives." Stephen Jay Gould died in May of 2002 of cancer.

Good To Know

In a Mother Jones interview, Gould mentioned that he was teased as a child for his fascination with paleontology. The other kids called him "fossil face." Gould added, "The only time I ever got beat up was when I admitted to being a Yankee fan in Brooklyn. That was kind of dumb."

Gould was diagnosed in 1982 with abdominal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. In one of his most famous essays, "The Median Isn't the Message," he explained how statistics are often misinterpreted by nonscientists, and why the grim statistics on his own disease -- with a median mortality of eight months, at that time -- didn't deter him from believing he would live for many more years. "[D]eath is the ultimate enemy -- and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light," he wrote. He died in May 2002 -- 20 years after his diagnosis.

Gould made a guest appearance as himself on The Simpsons in 1997, participating in a town debate over the authenticity of an "angel skeleton" found in Springfield.

Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Jay Gould
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 10, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      May 20, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Boston, Massachusetts

Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Editor's Note 21
Seventh Inning Stretch: Baseball, Father, and Me 25
Reflections and Experience
Streetball from a New York City Boyhood 37
The Babe's Final Strike 47
The Best of Times, Almost 50
Innings 54
More Power to Him 56
Rough Injustice 61
Tripping the Light Fantastic 64
Fenway Crowns the Millennium 68
Times to Try a Fan's Soul 72
Freud at the Ballpark 76
A Time to Laugh 80
Heroes Large, Small, and Fallen
Mickey Mantle: The Man versus the Myth 87
Dusty's Moment 97
This Was a Man 102
The Greatest Athlete of the Century 105
The Amazing Dummy 112
The Glory of His Time, and Ours 130
Eight More Out 134
Nature, History, and Statistics as Meaning
Left Holding the Bat 143
Why No One Hits .400 Anymore 151
The Streak of Streaks 173
Letter to Joe DiMaggio, January 3, 1985 188
The Creation Myths of Cooperstown 190
The Brain of Brawn 205
Baseball's Reliquary: The Oddly Possible Hybrid of Shrine and University 210
Jim Bowie's Letter and Bill Buckner's Legs 219
Diamonds Are a Fan's Best Friend 243
Angell Hits a Grand Slam with Collected Baseball Essays 248
The Black Men Who Integrated Big League Ball 252
Baseball and the Two Faces of Janus 257
The H and Q of Baseball 275
Sultan of Sentimentality 295
Baseball: Joys and Lamentations 301
Good Sports & Bad 322
Jacket Art Identification 343
Index 345
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2005

    A final effort

    This collection was put together as Gould was dying. He was able to 'complete' it, but it lacks the polish of other Gould collections. His usual form was to organize edit the essays so that, although written at different times, they appeared to flow seamlessly together and support an overall theme. Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville appears much more to be a grab-bag collection of his baseball writings, and reveals that Gould probably never had time to complete the 'finishing process' that marks his other collections. I would still recommend this one to any fan of sports or sports writing. Two essays in particular 'Why No One Hits .400 Anymore' and 'The Streak of Streaks' should be read by just about anyone, but especially sports fans. Gould's collection reveals the passion, interest, and love of a true fan. I have missed Gould's insights in areas other than baseball. This book causes me to yearn for his reaction to two of the main developments in baseball since his death: the steroid scandal and the Red Sox victory in the World Series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)