Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Play Ball, You All

Many of you know that I like to describe Capital City, affectionately, as a minor league town. I turns out others think the same way.

Scott Mayer and W. Harrison Daniel, of the University of Richmond, spoke at RPL tonight about their book Baseball and Richmond. While our ball teams did have two flirtations with alternate major leagues – the American Association and the U.S. League – Richmond has remained firmly ensconced in the minor leagues. We’ve been at the top of the minors, though. As the various leagues folded or evolved, they always wanted Richmond on the roster, as Capital City drew top crowds and usually boasted the largest population in the system. During those moments in the majors, imagine the pride of civic boosters who could point to the box scores: “Richmond 5, New York 4” ; “Richmond 3, Cincinnati 4.” Across the country, newspaper scores and standings linked our little city to leading metropolises.

In a small digression, Mayer and Daniel spoke about the publisher, and its commitment to scholarly works on sports. Most books on the minor leagues cover an entire state or league. By sticking to Richmond, this book, they said, will test the waters for similarly narrowed books in the future. It’s the leading study of a narrow topic in a top minor-league town, in other words.

None but the biggest cities escaped the demands of autos at mid-century. Early 20th century fans on both sides of the river found the park on Mayo’s Island easy to walk to or reach by streetcar. By the 1940s or so, fans wanted or needed to drive. Yes friends, people from the west end complained [okay, that’s my assumption] about the Parking. The need for a parking lot, and the James River’s frequent floods drove baseball inland.

The book has some nice illustrations, and a couple of good appendices, listing team names, leagues and years, and ballpark locations.

I look forward to diving into this book. I just need to finish Double Fold, and the book club agreed on The Hours. . . .

Capital City Weather: 70ish with clouds increasing through the day.

Bravo to S.S. for scoring a job at Mount Vernon! Whoo hoo.

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