Ask a Brooklynite over the age of fifty and they’ll likely tell you that baseball’s golden age ended the day the Dodgers and Giants packed up and headed for the West Coast. Not so argues Lincoln A. Mitchell
in his new book, Baseball Goes West: The Dodgers, the Giants, and the Shaping of the Major Leagues
(Kent State UP, 2018). Mitchell, a political scientist at Columbia University and sports writer, makes a compelling case for the modern era of baseball only beginning with baseball’s expansion westward during the mid-twentieth century. Prior to this move, the sport was intensely regional and blindingly white. In the years that followed, several more franchises moved west of the Mississippi and many more nonwhite players entered the league, bringing a more diverse – and much larger – fanbase with them. Rather than an ending, the relocation of the Dodgers and Giants simply meant a shift in baseball’s center of gravity, as New York lost its crown as the sport’s home base and the game truly became a national pastime.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.