Steven P. GietschierSep 23, 2023
The Turbulent Midcentury Years
University of Nebraska Press 2023
Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years (University of Nebraska Press, 2023) explores the history of organized baseball during the middle of the twentieth century, examining the sport on and off the field and contextualizing its development as both sport and business within the broader contours of American history. Steven P. Gietschier begins with the Great Depression, looking at how those years of economic turmoil shaped the sport and how baseball responded. Gietschier covers a then-burgeoning group of owners, players, and key figures--among them Branch Rickey, Larry MacPhail, Hank Greenberg, Ford Frick, and several others--whose stories figure prominently in baseball's past and some of whom are still prominent in its collective consciousness.
Combining narrative and analysis, Gietschier tells the game's history across more than three decades while simultaneously exploring its politics and economics, including, for example, how the game confronted and barely survived the United States' entry into World War II; how owners controlled their labor supply--the players; and how the business of baseball interacted with the federal government. He reveals how baseball handled the return to peacetime and the defining postwar decade, including the integration of the game, the demise of the Negro Leagues, the emergence of television, and the first efforts to move franchises and expand into new markets. Gietschier considers much of the work done by biographers, scholars, and baseball researchers to inform a new and current history of baseball in one of its more important and transformational periods.
Steven P. Gietschier is an archival consultant for The Sporting News.
Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network.