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Cap Anson: The Grand Old Man of Baseball

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  • Cap Anson: The Grand Old Man of Baseball

    http://www.amazon.com/Cap-Anson-Gran.../dp/0786422386

    I read Fifty-Nine in '84 over the summer (highly recommended) with new hopes of picking up another book on a 19th century great.

    I doubt it will enthrall me as much as Radbourn's book since Anson was much less obscure, but any comments?
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    I read Fleitz' book and liked it a lot, but I have to admit there's not too much more about it I remember beyond that fact. It's a more straightforward biography without the bells and whistles of Achorn's book on Radbourn.
    “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

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    • #3
      Its an alright book. Kinda drags a bit, but I thought it was worth it.
      "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
      -Rogers Hornsby-

      "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
      -Rogers Hornsby-

      Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!

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      • #4
        Any other good recommends on 19th century guys?
        "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

        Comment


        • #5
          Specifically biographies? There aren't that many, although that won't stop me from forgetting some. One I have never read straight through but liked what I have seen of is Reed Browning's book on Cy Young. Gerald Caswell (sp?), a professional historian has a biography of Delahanty. Somebody has one on Mike Kelly that is nothing special, but worth reading if you're interested. There are a couple on John Ward that are both worthwhile, I think. Christopher Devine has one on Harry Wright. These all show fair to good workmanship, but they don't have the kind of razzle dazzle you get from Achorn.

          Mike Roer's biography of Orator Jim O'Rourke throws in everything but the kitchen sink, a common failing in 19th century baseball books, but a lot of the irrelevant stuff is interesting and he doesn't put in irrelevancies while leaving out what would be useful context, as writers sometimes do. So I didn't mind the shotgun approach, in fact I rather enjoyed it. I did feel Roer identified excessively with O'Rourke and ignored his weaknesses, which made for a blander portrait of him than it had to be. But it's an interesting book.

          O'Rourke and Ward are particularly good subjects. Both of them, especially Ward, were interesting personalities, much more so than the ordinary ball player, and O'Rourke was in the game for many decades in a wide variety of capacities, so you see a lot of the baseball world reading about him.

          For Anson, you could also read his autobiography, which was republished a few years ago, and it would probably make a good companion piece to Fleitz' book. However, Howard Rosenberg has a series of four books out on Anson, titled Cap Anson 1, Cap Anson 2 and so on. 2 and 3 have subtitles about other outstanding players such as Kelly and McGraw, so I'm really not sure how Anson is actually in them. The subtitle of 3 is "Muggsy John McGraw and the Tricksters: Baseball's Fun Age of Rule Bending," which is a lot jollier view of McGraw and the 1890's than most writers give you. I can actually remember a time when people called that decade "the gay nineties" (yes, they really did), but I've never heard it called "the fun nineties".

          Anyway, Cap Anson I, the only one I've read, is definitely about Cap Anson, and Rosenberg is a marvelously tireless researcher of his subject. Not the best writer or analyst you'll read, though better than many, but his very real contribution is that no reader could possibly know so much about Anson that he wouldn't learn a lot from Cap Anson I. And whatever the other three books are about, I'd guess they must be packed with interesting information as well.
          “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

          Comment


          • #6
            Been reading "A Ballplayer's Career" by Cap Anson. First sports autobiography ever written (1900).

            https://www.amazon.com/Players-Caree...id=1533620334& amp;sr=1-1&keywords=Cap+anson

            Excerpts:

            Spalding and the players climbed onto the Sphinx for photographs, much “to the horror of the native worshippers of Cheops and the dead Pharoahs.” No less disconcerting must have been unsuccessful efforts of several ballplayers to throw baseballs over the sacred Egyptian tombs. Observers reported that they amused themselves by throwing baseball’s at the Sphinx’s right eye, and that Fogarty, the Philadelphia outfielder, actually hit it.

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            • #7
              "Spalding became President of the Dynastic Chicago White Stockings, president when Hulbert died in 1882. Spalding believed in strict separation between players and management, with the latter handling financial matters. He built a team that dominated the early 1880s, as the White Stockings won pennants in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, and 1886. He was determined to have a clean game that drew respectable citizens to the ballpark. He was innovative, starting the practice of spring training when the team went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1886, and he sponsored a world tour of players in 1888-89.

              Cap Anson chronicled this trip as follows: Spalding organized a round-the-world tour with exhibition games between the Chicagos and a picked team, called the All-Americas, from the rest of the league.

              Among the All-America players were John M. Ward, Ned Hanlon, Fred Carroll, and Egyptian Healy. They left Chicago via the Burlington Railroad on October 20, 1888. For about a month they toured the West, playing in such places as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Des Moines, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. On November 18 the players sailed for Hawaii, arriving a week later. In addition to Honolulu they played in Auckland and a few Australian cities. In January they sailed to Ceylon, where they also played, but they avoided India for health reasons.

              On February 7, 1889, the players arrived in Egypt, where they had a game in the shadow of the pyramids. From there they proceeded to Naples, Rome (playing before the king of Italy), Florence, and Paris. In the latter city, on May 8, Ned Williamson tore his kneecap in a game, virtually ending his career. They crossed the Channel that evening, playing in London (before Edward, Prince of Wales) and other British cities, as well as Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin. In all there were 28 games abroad, the All-Americas winning 14, the Chicagos 11, with three ties. The weary travelers sailed from Queenstown on March 25, arriving in New York on April 6. Two days later there was a game in Brooklyn followed by a banquet at Delmonico's, at which Chauncey Depew was the speaker, with Mark Twain also in attendance. After further exhibitions at Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis, the touring players arrived back in Chicago on April 19 for a banquet at the Palmer House. The final game was played on the 20th at West Side Park, six months after they had started out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post
                "Spalding became President of the Dynastic Chicago White Stockings, president when Hulbert died in 1882. Spalding believed in strict separation between players and management, with the latter handling financial matters. He built a team that dominated the early 1880s, as the White Stockings won pennants in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, and 1886. He was determined to have a clean game that drew respectable citizens to the ballpark. He was innovative, starting the practice of spring training when the team went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1886, and he sponsored a world tour of players in 1888-89.

                Cap Anson chronicled this trip as follows: Spalding organized a round-the-world tour with exhibition games between the Chicagos and a picked team, called the All-Americas, from the rest of the league.

                Among the All-America players were John M. Ward, Ned Hanlon, Fred Carroll, and Egyptian Healy. They left Chicago via the Burlington Railroad on October 20, 1888. For about a month they toured the West, playing in such places as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Des Moines, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. On November 18 the players sailed for Hawaii, arriving a week later. In addition to Honolulu they played in Auckland and a few Australian cities. In January they sailed to Ceylon, where they also played, but they avoided India for health reasons.

                On February 7, 1889, the players arrived in Egypt, where they had a game in the shadow of the pyramids. From there they proceeded to Naples, Rome (playing before the king of Italy), Florence, and Paris. In the latter city, on May 8, Ned Williamson tore his kneecap in a game, virtually ending his career. They crossed the Channel that evening, playing in London (before Edward, Prince of Wales) and other British cities, as well as Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin. In all there were 28 games abroad, the All-Americas winning 14, the Chicagos 11, with three ties. The weary travelers sailed from Queenstown on March 25, arriving in New York on April 6. Two days later there was a game in Brooklyn followed by a banquet at Delmonico's, at which Chauncey Depew was the speaker, with Mark Twain also in attendance. After further exhibitions at Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis, the touring players arrived back in Chicago on April 19 for a banquet at the Palmer House. The final game was played on the 20th at West Side Park, six months after they had started out.
                Thanks for the excerpts. Is the Anson book worth reading then?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 3rdGenCub View Post

                  Thanks for the excerpts. Is the Anson book worth reading then?
                  Absolutely.

                  Although I am sure it was heavily edited by some of Anson's sports writer friends, much of the phrasing and the anecdotes indicate it was written, or certainly dictated by Anson himself.

                  Incidentally the book does contain several passages which strongly support the modern image of Anson as a blatant racist. Which of course was hardly unusual in the later 1800s.

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