Okay, enough is enough. I held off reviewing this book because it seemed so obvious how the story had to end. Just as Mr. Masur's terrific account of the inaugural World Series, in 1903, tells of the Boston Red Sox winning an improbable come from behind victory over the mighty Pittsburg Pirates of Honus Wagner, so too would the Red Sox win a hundred years later... Alas, it was not to be.
However, as we settle in for a long winter of second-guessing Grady Little, Mr. Masur offers a welcome escape. Not only does he detail each game of the Series--including providing the boxscores--he also does something similar to what Daniel Okrent did in his classic, Nine Innings, which is to intercut game action and backstory, so that the events of the Series drive the narrative, but we get thorough histories of the American and National Leagues and the enmity between them, as well as biographical sketches of Wagner, Cy Young, and many others. The book is rich with information, from the reason for that odd spelling of the Pirates' hometown above to the fact that those Pirates, despite being the best team in baseball, drew just 326,000 fans for the entire '03 season--which must be less than the Red Sox drew this season just in their home games against the Yankees.
Perhaps the best aspect of the book though is that with all of this detail Mr. Masur manages to reconstruct a sense for us of what baseball, and indeed America, was like at that time. There are surprisingly strong continuities--salary disputes, unruly crowds, and much about the game as it's played on the field--but much that makes one nostalgic. Personally, I really enjoyed the many appearances by the Royal Rooters, a gang of die-hard Sox fans who even took the train to Pittsburg to root on their team. Theirs is a fanaticism about and a joy in baseball that resonates down to us across a century, but which differs in its innocence and its communitarian nature.
The book, though it proved not to be an omen for Red Sox triumph, is wonderful.
See also:Sports (Baseball)
-BOOK SITE: Autumn Glory (FSG Books)
-EXCERPT: "The Most Perfect Thing in America" from Autumn Glory
-REVIEW: of The Boisterous Sea of Liberty: A Documentary History of America From Discovery Through the Civil War by Brion Davis and Steven Mintz (Louis P. Masur, The Nation)
-REVIEW: of Simon Schama. Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations) (Louis P. Masur, William & Mary Quarterly)
-ARCHIVES: "Louis P. Masur" (Find Articles)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory: Baseball's First World Series By Louis P. Masur (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (John McMurtrie, SF Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (Gregory M. Lamb , CS Monitor)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (David Exum, Book Reporter)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (Joshua Adams, Pop Matters)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (W. J. Rayment, Conservative Monitor)
-REVIEW: of Autumn Glory (
-REVIEW: of 1831: Year of Eclipse By Louis P. Masur (David Traxel , NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of 1831: Year of Eclipse By Louis P. Masur (Journal of American History)
-REVIEW: of 1831: Year of Eclipse By Louis P. Masur (Roger Miller, Book Page)
-REVIEW: of '…the real war will never get in the books': Selections from Writers During the Civil War edited by Louis P. Masur (C. Vann Woodward, NY Review of Books)
Book-related and General Links:
1903 WORLD SERIES:
-1903 World Series (Baseball Almanac)
--ESSAY: Modern Series got its start in 1903 season (Historic Baseball)
-ESSAY: The World Series turns 100: Three new books celebrate the 1903 fall classic (Bruce Dancis, April 6, 2003, Sacramento Bee)
-ESSAY: A century of heroes: The World Series, though not exactly global, is a centerpiece of American sports culture. (Ross Atkin, 10/14/03, CS Monitor)
Copyright 1998-2015 Orrin Judd