In October of 1888, Albert Goodwill Spaldingbaseball star, sporting-goods magnate, promotional genius, serial fabulistdeparted Chicago on a trip that would take him and two baseball teams on a journey clear around the globe. Their mission, closely followed in the American and international press, had two (secret) goals: to fix the game in the American consciousness as the purest expression of the national spirit, and to seed markets for Spalding's products near and far. In the process, these first cultural ambassadors played before kings and queens, visited the Coliseumand the Eiffel Tower, and took pot shots with their baseballs at the great Sphinx in Egypt. This expedition to lands both exotic and familiar is chronicled with dash and wit in Mark Lamster's Spalding's World Tour, a book filled with larger-than-life characters often competing harder for love and money off the baseball diamond than for runs on it. Getting themselves into scrapes and narrowly escaping international incident all around the globe, these innocents abroad gave the world an early peek at the American century just around the corner. For anyone interested in the history of the gameor the history of brand marketingSpalding's World Tour hits the sweet spot.
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About the Author
Mark Lamster is senior acquisitions editor at Princeton Architectural Press in New York. His writing on baseball, history, design, and architecture has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, Metropolis, I.D., and Architecture. Lamster lives in New York City and is an active member of the Society of American Baseball Research.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Spalding's World Tour: A Gilded Age Adventure and the Birth of Modern Baseball based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This is a surprisingly interesting book even if you aren't a baseball fan. An enterprising team owner and upcoming sports equipment magnate, Spalding sought to gain more visibility for the American pastime by doing exhibition games around the world over the course of six months in 1888-89. The book really is much more about the experiences of a group of Americans, mostly young men (several wives came along), visiting exotic places and behaving like, well, a bunch of young men would on a rather incredible road trip. Lamster is a very good writer who carries the story along with fun anecdotes and never bogs down in moralizing or schmaltz. Highly recommended.
Some things never change -- greedy baseball players, greedy owners, rowdy fans who want to drink beer on Sundays. Almost hard to believe this all happened more than a century ago.