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Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training
     

Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training

by Charles Fountain
 

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There is nothing in all of American sport quite like baseball's spring training. This annual six-week ritual, whose origins date back nearly a century and a half, fires the hearts and imaginations of fans who flock by the hundreds of thousands to places like Dodgertown to glimpse superstars and living legends in a relaxed moment and watch the drama of journeyman

Overview

There is nothing in all of American sport quite like baseball's spring training. This annual six-week ritual, whose origins date back nearly a century and a half, fires the hearts and imaginations of fans who flock by the hundreds of thousands to places like Dodgertown to glimpse superstars and living legends in a relaxed moment and watch the drama of journeyman veterans and starry-eyed kids in search of that last spot on the bench. In Under the March Sun, Charles Fountain recounts for the first time the full and fascinating history of spring training and its growth from a shoestring-budget roadtrip to burn off winter calories into a billion-dollar-a-year business. In the early days southern hotels only reluctantly admitted ballplayers--and only if they agreed not to mingle with other guests. Today cities fight for teams by spending millions in public money to build ever-more-elaborate spring-training stadiums. In the early years of the 20th century, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, Al Lang, first realized that coverage in northern newspapers every spring was publicity his growing city could never afford to buy. As the book demonstrates, cities have been following Lang's lead ever since, building identities and economies through the media exposure and visitors that spring training brings. An entertaining cultural history that taps into the romance of baseball even as it reveals its more hard-nosed commercial machinations, Under the March Sun shows why spring training draws so many fans southward every March. While the prices may be growing and the intimacy and accessibility shrinking, they come because the sunshine and sense of hope are timeless.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A revealing combination of sports and business history. Written in brisk, engaging prose, it sheds light from an unusual angle on American society, from demographic changes through race relations on to park construction in all its dimensions."—The Boston Globe

"In all, Fountain's words about the annual rites of spring training read like a poem, with historical context swept in at the appropriate times."—Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News

"This book regularly reminds us that although spring training parks are getting bigger, although spring training prices are getting higher and although the spring training atmosphere is getting more impersonal, those diamonds in the roughs of Florida and Arizona still offer fans the best close-up look at baseball."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"This book is the perfect spring training companion. Take it with you to the berm at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium, or the newly built boardwalks in Port Charlotte, where the Rays currently train. Settle in and read a few chapters in ancient McKechnie Field in Bradenton, or at the spanking clean facilities at Disney or at Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium. It plays well at the Bright House complex in Clearwater or at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Pick any venue. It's a great read at all of them."—Tampa Tribune.com

"Fountain, a journalism teacher at Northeastern University, has written that rare baseball book that also serves as a cultural history. He makes a convincing case for Al Lang, mayor of St. Petersburg before World War I, as the progenitor of spring training as we know it. 'Under the March Sun' has so much atmosphere you can smell the cocoa butter as you read."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"A tremendous look at 'the story of spring training'...[V]ery enjoyable and succeeded in surveying one of the best parts of the baseball landscape."—Baseballbookreview.com

"A very detailed look at the business of spring training, with a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. Especially interesting are things like the section on Boardwalk and Baseball, the short-lived theme park near Orlando that was once the Grapefruit League home of the Royals."—Worcester Telegram & Gazette

"Charles Fountain has captured the importance of spring training in baseball with Under the March Sun. I commend him for bringing to life this most enjoyable time of year for every baseball fan."—Peter O'Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1970-98

"Where has this book been? Why has no one written it before? The poetry has oozed out of Florida and Arizona every February and March forever, rhapsodies about rebirth and sunscreen and the virtues of watching major-league ballplayers up-close while wearing a good pair of Bermuda shorts, but no one has chronicled the nuts, bolts and civic intrigues associated with baseball's spring training. Not the way Chuck Fountain has. Terrific stuff."—Leigh Montville, author of Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero and The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth

"Definitive, fascinating, a ground breaking cultural and sports history of spring training from humble origins to mega million status today. A winner!"—Harvey Frommer, author of Remembering Yankee Stadium, and Red Sox vs. Yankees: The Great Rivalry

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199743704
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/04/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Charles Fountain teaches journalism at Northeastern University. He has worked as a sports reporter and is the author of Sportswriter: The Life and Times of Grantland Rice (Oxford, 1993). He lives with his wife, Cathy, in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

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