Baseball Memories 1900-1909

By Marc Okkonen

New York: Sterling Publishing, 1993

This is research for researchers. Marc Okkonen has compiled information here that could lead to a dozen other books -- a faithful re-creation of the era of Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Ring Lardner.

Turning to the Boston section I found gorgeous color drawings -- aerial views -- of Huntington Avenue Grounds (American) and South End Grounds (National). These parks were the closest neighbors in the big leagues, situated across the railroad tracks from each other. What better way to illustrate the cut-throat competition between the two leagues (who scheduled games on the same day)? The National League's park, Hopelessly wedged between the railroad tracks and Columbus Avenue foretells the Braves' difficulty in competing with the upstart Red Sox. Nuf Ced McGreevy's saloon, Third Base, is also shown on an accompanying map. There are photos taken at each ballpark, too. The quality of some of the pictures isn't great, because they are xeroxed from old newspapers. You have to realize that these photos don't exist anywhere else.

The book is dedicated in part to the daily newspapers... which provided a daily diary of baseball history. Boston alone supported ten papers: the Globe; the five which became the Herald (the Record, American, Advertiser, Traveler, and the Herald); plus the extinct Post, Journal, Transcript, and News. Thirty-four baseball reporters are listed, and four cartoonists. There was no TV or radio, everything happened in the newspapers. Late editions came out at 7:30 pm so you could get all the scores. If you didn't get out to the park, you'd check the cartoons, a 1900's version of the sports highlight show. Here's big Cy Young sliding (a mastodon slide). Here's manager Collins arguing with the ump, the huge crowd around the ticket windows, the fat cop pushing back the crowd (Move, you lobsters).

Here's a list (with photos) of the club's owners and officers. Color drawings of the team's uniforms, from Okkonen's earlier book Baseball Uniforms. Lists of team captains, spring training sites, and umpires... There are photos of all Red Sox players of the decade, not just Tris Speaker but Alfred Shoddy Shaw, catcher 1907.

What is it about the faces of these old-time ballplayers? Some look innocent as children; others look prematurely old, grizzled veterans at 30. In the A's section there are adjacent photos of Eddie Collins: one is the portrait of an intelligent college boy, in the other picture he wields a bat and puts on his game face. He looks like he wants to murder the first pitcher he sees. Over in the Detroit section is a photo of owner Bill Yawkey, Tom's dad... Hours of entertainment for the baseball krank. -- DN

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