Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball [NOOK Book]

Overview

"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 ...

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Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball

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Overview

"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.

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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
“[Gould] loves the sport viscerally, and his interests in science and baseball are as parallel and intertwined as DNA's double helix.”
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.”
Paul Duke - Baltimore Sun
“[Gould] rhapsodizes about the passion of intellectuals and boasts about his family's 'four generations of baseball rooting.”
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
“Makes it clear that [Gould] was as avid and knowledgeable about baseball as he was about paleontology.”
Dan Smith - Sports Journal
“A masterpiece....these 35 essays...are about as entertaining and informative as anything you'll read about baseball.”
Phil Tatman - Orlando Sentinal
“[Gould's] take on Chuck Knoblauch's throwing problems is a hoot.”
Brad Stribling - Dallas Sports Guide
“Terrific....I've got no qualms at all in recommending this one.”
John Curtis - San Diego Union-Tribune
“Gould wrote as enthusiastically about baseball as he did about evolution....his best...essays on the game are gathered [here].”
Mark E Hayes - Elysian Fields Quarterly
“A triple treat from the mind of a passionate fan, an incisive thinker, and a lucid writer.”
Alan Schwarz - New York Times Book Review
“Intellectual Windex for what David Wells splattered on us earlier this spring.”
Jonathan Mahler - Washington Post Book World
“It is the lyrical...pieces in this collection that resonate most powerfully.”
Richard A Somma - Free Lance-Star [Fredericksburg
“In this fine collection, Gould...is part scientist, part detective and, of course, all baseball fan.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393340891
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/29/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 900,329
  • File size: 2 MB

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.

Biography

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.

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    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
Criticism
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
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Customer Reviews

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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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

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    Posted February 24, 2011

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