The Farmers' Game: Baseball in Rural America

The Farmers' Game: Baseball in Rural America

by David Vaught


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Anyone who has watched the film Field of Dreams can’t help but be captivated by the lead character’s vision. He gives his struggling farming community a magical place where the smell of roasted peanuts gently wafts over the crowded grandstand on a warm summer evening just as the star pitcher takes the mound.

Baseball, America’s game, has a dedicated following and a rich history. Fans obsess over comparative statistics and celebrate men who played for legendary teams during the "golden age" of the game. In The Farmers' Game, David Vaught examines the history and character of baseball through a series of essay-vignettes. He presents the sport as essentially rural, reflecting the nature of farm and small-town life.

Vaught does not deny or devalue the lively stickball games played in the streets of Brooklyn, but he sees the history of the game and the rural United States as related and mutually revealing. His subjects include nineteenth-century Cooperstown, the playing fields of Texas and Minnesota, the rural communities of California, the great farmer-pitcher Bob Feller, and the notorious Gaylord Perry.

Although—contrary to legend—Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball in a cow pasture in upstate New York, many fans enjoy the game for its nostalgic qualities. Vaught's deeply researched exploration of baseball's rural roots helps explain its enduring popularity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421407555
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 01/03/2013
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Vaught is department head and professor of history at Texas A&M University. His four books include After the Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley and Cultivating California: Growers, Specialty Crops, and Labor, 1875–1920, both published by Johns Hopkins.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Abner Doubleday and Baseball's Idol of Origins 1

Chapter 1 Playing Ball in Cooperstown in the Formative Years of the American Republic 12

Chapter 2 Baseball and the Transformation of Rural California 35

Chapter 3 Multicultural Ball in the Heyday of Texas Cotton Agriculture 50

Chapter 4 The Making of Bob Feller and the Modern American Farmer 76

Chapter 5 The Milroy Yankees and the Decline of Southwest Minnesota 104

Chapter 6 Gaylord Perry, the Spitter, and Farm Life in Eastern North Carolina 124

Epilogue: Vintage Ball 146

Notes 153

Essay on Sources 199

Index 205

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