My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The mythologized and debunked tale of General Abner Doubleday’s invention of baseball in Cooperstown, New York is the focus of Baseball’s Creation Myth by Brian Martin. The story behind the Doubleday-Cooperstown tale brings into the spotlight three men who inspired it, who spun it, and who promoted it. Martin tells about the lives of these three men along with the social and political times they lived in when the Cooperstown story was birthed.
Martin centers his book on the lives of Adam Ford, Abner Graves, and Albert Goodwell Spalding. Although several other individuals for a few pages do become the focus, it is these three that propel the narrative on how the Cooperstown story came to be and of how of all places Denver, Colorado is where it germinated. Martin explains that the backdrop of the patriotic and optimistic times of the first decade of the 1900s under Theodore Roosevelt, in which the story is first introduced, is why it became such a fixed fact of Americana. And Martin explains the different paths Cooperstown and its Canadian counterpart St. Mary’s became homes to their nation’s respective Halls of Fame.
The understanding of both Ford and Graves is center to Martin’s text and their lives and experiences are examined throughout the book especially their relationship to baseball. A few times Martin does take side streets in his text, most notably when discussing Mark Twain’s experiences in Virginia City. However for the most part Martin sticks to building what he believes to be a very reasonable, though admittedly circumstantial, case on the Cooperstown story was conceived and took root.
Having no real clue about what to expect from this book, I found it enjoyable read on how a mythical event of Americana came to be as well on the lives of two ordinary men who played a part in how it came about.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from LibraryThing.
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