Autumn Glory

Baseball's First World Series

By Louis P. Masur
(Hill and Wang, Hardcover, 9780809027637, 256pp.)

Publication Date: June 2003

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

A suspenseful account of the glorious days a century ago when our national madness began

A post-season series of games to establish supremacy in the major leagues was not inevitable in the baseball world. But in 1903 the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (in the well-established National League) challenged the Boston Americans (in the upstart American League) to a play-off, which he was sure his team would win. They didn’t—and that wasn’t the only surprise during what became the first World Series. In Autumn Glory, Louis P. Masur tells the riveting story of two agonizing weeks in which the stars blew it, unknown players stole the show, hysterical fans got into the act, and umpires had to hold on for dear life.

Before and even during the 1903 season, it had seemed that baseball might succumb to the forces that had been splintering the sport for decades: owners’ greed, players’ rowdyism, fans’ unrest. Yet baseball prevailed, and Masur tells the equally dramatic story of how it did so, in a country preoccupied with labor strife and big-business ruthlessness, and anxious about the welfare of those crowding into cities such as Pittsburgh and Boston (which in themselves offered competing versions of the American dream). His colorful history of how the first World Series consolidated baseball’s hold on the American imagination makes us see what one sportswriter meant when he wrote at the time, “Baseball is the melting pot at a boil, the most democratic sport in the world.” All in all, Masur believes, it still is.
Louis Masur, a professor of history at City College of New York and the editor of Reviews in American History, is the author of 1831: Year of Eclipse. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.
A postseason series of games to establish supremacy in the major leagues was not inevitable in the baseball world. But in 1903 the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (in the well-established National League) challenged the Boston Americans (in the upstart American League) to a play-off, which he was sure his team would win. They didn't—and that wasn't the only surprise during what became the first World Series. In Autumn Glory, Louis P. Masur tells the riveting story of two agonizing weeks in which the stars blew it, unknown players stole the show, hysterical fans got into the act, and umpires had to hold on for dear life.

Before and even during the 1903 season, it has seemed that baseball might succumb to the forces that had been splintering the sport for decades: owners' greed, players' rowdyism, fans' unrest. Yet baseball prevailed, and Masur tells the dramatic story of how it did so, in a country preoccupied with labor strife and big-business ruthlessness, and anxious about the welfare of those crowding into cities such as Pittsburgh and Boston (which in themselves offered competing versions of the American dream). His colorful history of how the first World Series consolidated baseball's hold on the American imagination makes us see what one sportswriter meant when he wrote at the time, "Baseball is the melting pot at a boil, the most democratic sport in the world." All in all, Masur believes, it still is.
"Autumn Glory is a book to be savored in all seasons. Louis Masur vividly recreates a bygone year not only of immortals such as Cy Young, but also of forgotten diamond heroes with monikers such as Ginger Beaumont, Kitty Bransfield, and Noodles Hahn; a time when players rode to the stadium through cheering throngs in open barouches, and when, inning after inning, derby-hatted, cigar-smoking fans waved red parasols and belted out music-hall ballads until their throats were raw."—William E. Leuchtenburg, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina
"Autumn Glory is a book to be savored in all seasons. Louis Masur vividly recreates a bygone year not only of immortals such as Cy Young, but also of forgotten diamond heroes with monikers such as Ginger Beaumont, Kitty Bransfield, and Noodles Hahn; a time when players rode to the stadium through cheering throngs in open barouches, and when, inning after inning, derby-hatted, cigar-smoking fans waved red parasols and belted out music-hall ballads until their throats were raw."—William E. Leuchtenburg, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina

"As the World Series turns a hundred years old this year, I can think of no better way to celebrate than reading Autumn Glory. Louis Masur drops us back a full century to relive the first World Series, and in his hands the games lose none of their excitement and flavor. The era comes vibrantly alive in this wonderful baseball book."—Jules Tygiel, author of Past Time: Baseball as History

"[This book offers] a well-crafted chronicle of the turbulent events leading up to the first championship series played between the pennant winners of the National and American Leagues. It also provides a balanced and detailed account of the Series. Masur's narrative strategy, similar to that used by Jane Leavy in her recent best-selling biography of Sandy Koufax, is to alternate chapters on historical background with those on the games played in the series . . . The strategy works perfectly because it reflects the leisurely pace of baseball. The gaps between pitches, innings, games, and seasons have always invited fans to talk about baseball history and are a good part of the reason the game evolved into our national pastime . . . Writing a perfect baseball book is as difficult as pitching a perfect game, but Louis P. Masur comes close in his well-written double narrative of 'baseball at its apogee.' Among the several books out this spring in recognition of the centennial of the first World Series, Autumn Glory, with its eloquent prose and balanced research, is clearly a winner."—Richard Peterson, Chicago Tribune

"In a perfect world, there would be a book this good about every World Series."—Rob Neyer, author of Feeding the Green Monster

"Autumn Glory brings one back to those halcyon days when players and owners alike eschewed money for honor, and when Boston actually used to win the World Series. An invaluable resource for all fans of the game."—Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

"Louis Masur's Autumn Glory is the best researched and most eloquent account of the first World Series yet written. He provides ample evidence why the first modern fall classic became a beloved American tradition."—Glenn Stout, coauthor of Red Sox Century

"This is a book that every baseball fan will enjoy. History-minded Americans will love it, too. It's a marvelous look at the Americans of 1903. What a great way to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the World Series!"—Thomas Fleming, author of The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II

"Drawing on newspapers of the day and archival materials, Masur (history, CCNY) presents the story of the initial World Series pitting pennant winners from the rival National and American leagues. In interspersed chapters, the author focuses on each of the eight games between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox) and broader developments affecting the national pastime. The game-by-game accounts compel the reader’s attention, and the examinations of the battle between the two circuits, the carving out of the so-called National Agreement, and the 1903 pennant races are intriguing, too. As related by Masur, early 20th-century major league baseball seems both familiar and somewhat distinct from the contemporary version . . . Masur provides texture for the first World Series, highlighting the fans overflowing onto the playing field, inclement weather conditions, and seemingly ever-present gamblers . . . An enjoyable read."—Library Journal

"Masur (History, CUNY) offers a marvellous account that is a perfect complement to the other book on the same subject, historian Roger Abrams's The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics of 1903. Both are slender and rich in detail, but Masur takes the reader more dramatically into each game, every inning, pitch, and at-bat. Each game of the eight-game series gets its own chapter and to these the author adds contextual information dealing with the establishment of the two leagues, the agreement to play a showdown series, and the basic agreement that led to the creation of the national pastime. This is a book to be read in one enjoyable sitting. The bibliography is complete, the scholarship impeccable. Highly recommended. All collections; all levels."—S. Gittleman, Tufts University, Choice

"At the beginning of the previous century, baseball had two competing business leagues. In 1903, a deal was reached to hold a championship between the winners of the two leagues. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans played the first post-season championship. Several years later this event became knows as the World Series, and post-season championships became a way of American professional sports life—throughout the century and still today, a century later. Baseball fans and early twentieth-century history buffs will fully enjoy this deep look at the debut of the premier event of the national pastime . . . Masur provides a grand slam with [this] wonderful look at the first World Series."—The Midwest Book Review

"At the heart of this book by Masur (1831: Year of the Eclipse) are eight in-depth, almost play-by-play, retellings of the games of the 1903 World Series between the Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates . . . Masur’s storytelling skills . . . keep the book moving. Interspersed among the game recaps is a closely considered, detailed account of how the World Series was invented. Punctuated by chapters with titles like ‘War,’ ‘Peace,’ ‘Winter’ and ‘Spring,’ Masur’s presentation of the violent birth of the fall classic as the result of a bitter war between established National league and upstart American League takes on a decidedly Yeatsian tone. Thankfully, the dense, political nature of these chapters is balanced by more colorful takes of the era, like Pittsburgh manager Fred Clarke being ‘pummeled’ black and blue by an opposing player and the New York Giants’ Christy Mathewson winning three games of a four-game regular season series versus the Pirates that demonstrate how much and how little the game has changed over the years . . . Masur’s work is a prime example of a winter baseball book: a story to stoke the fire of baseball lovers whose hope of a World Series title has become every fan’s entitlement for the past century."—Publishers Weekly




About the Author

Louis P. Masur, a professor of history at City College of New York and the editor of Reviews in American History, is the author of 1831: Year of Eclipse (H&W, 2001). He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.




Praise For Autumn Glory

"This is a book that every baseball fan will enjoy. History-minded Americans will love it, too. It's a marvelous look at the Americans of 1903. What a great way to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the World Series!"
--Thomas Fleming, author of The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II

"Autumn Glory is a book to be savored in all seasons. Louis Masur vividly recreates a bygone year not only of immortals such as Cy Young, but also of forgotten diamond heroes with monikers such as Ginger Beaumont, Kitty Bransfield, and Noodles Hahn; a time when players rode to the stadium through cheering throngs in open barouches, and when, inning after inning, derby-hatted, cigar-smoking fans waved red parasols and belted out music-hall ballads until their throats were raw."
--William E. Leuchtenburg, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina

"Louis Masur's Autumn Glory is the best researched and most eloquent account of the first World Series yet written. He provides ample evidence why the first modern fall classic became a beloved American tradition."
--Glenn Stout, co-author of Red Sox Century

"Autumn Glory brings one back to those halcyon days when players and owners alike eschewed money for honor, and when Boston actually used to win the World Series. An invaluable resource for all fans of the game."
--Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

"As the World Series turns a hundred years old this year, I can think of no better way to celebrate than reading Autumn Glory. Louis Masur drops us back a full century to relive the first World Series, and in his hands the games lose none of their excitement and flavor. The era comes vibrantly alive in this wonderful baseball book."
--Jules Tygiel, author of Past Time: Baseball as History

"In a perfect world, there would be a book this good about every World Series."
s20--Rob Neyer, author of Feeding the Green Monster

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