Strikeout: Baseball, Broadway, and the Brotherhood in the 19th Century
Between 1888 and January 1891, professional baseball is in its infancy. Many professional players in the National League are becoming upset with the autocratic methods the owners use to control the game and their salaries. In forming a Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, John Montgomery Ward, the star shortstop for the New York Giants, attempts to organize a players’ union, which will eventually break away from the National League to form the new Players League in 1890. He is helped by his millionaire wife, the famous Broadway actress Helen Dauvray. The story involves the contentious marriage between Ward and Dauvray, ballgame conditions in which center field may include a miniature lake, and the many players who play a game while drunk or suffering from a hangover.
This novel reads as a docudrama detailing the lives and times of major league baseball players before the turn of the 20th century. For them, the bigotry and racism present in the game must be balanced against the job’s financial rewards and excitement. Baseball enthusiasts like myself will enjoy this book for its realistic depiction of the sport during its formative years. The characters themselves are not very well developed, but the lifestyles of the players are described and documented. My only major critical issue with the novel was the number of grammatical errors I encountered.