22 January 2015

Peter Morris, Base Ball Founders and Base Ball Pioneers

Peter Morris, et al, Base Ball Founders. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013.
                   _____, Base Ball Pioneers, 1850 - 1870. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.

Base Ball Founders is the second volume of a project exploring the early development and spread of baseball in the late nineteenth century, when it went form a New England variant of a traditional children’s game to the National Pastime in only fifty years.

The “et al” above is a top-notch team of baseball historians, led by Morris, an inaugural winner of the Henry Chadwick award for lifetime achievement. He and William Ryczek, Jan Finkel, Leonard Levin, and Richard Malatzky, with occasional others, take turns penning chapters about important teams of the time. In Founders, they focus on the Boston to Philadelphia corridor where the New York derivative of rounders developed into what we now call baseball. New York City, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts are each represented by six to ten teams. Each team record gives a club history, and some have player biographies or accounts of significant games. Each also includes a list of resources consulted.

Base Ball Pioneers, the companion volume, explores the game’s dispersal. Following the same format, Pioneers covers teams in ten outlying areas, from Maine and Connecticut, to San Francisco. Each volume is nicely indexed, and this set is a valuable reference. It works especially well when paired with David Block’s Baseball Before We Knew It and John Thorn’s Base Ball in the Garden of Eden, by providing a human face for the history told in those titles.

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08 January 2015

2014 reading list, October - December

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye. NY: Pocket Books, 1972.

This book sings, sings like Maya Angelou’s caged bird, sings a song of sorrow with a passion and pain so precisely expressed that, like a sharp blade, the wound isn’t felt until later. When is one ready for such a thing? Maybe only after reading it.

Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magonn, X. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2015.

see full review here

Jackie Robinson & Alfred Duckett, I Never Had It Made. NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1972.

see full review here

Avi, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. NY: Avon, 1992.

A Newbery Honor book, this is the tale of how little Charlie Doyle ran away to sea. With adventure, intrigue, and danger, lessons about 1830s sailing ships and their working slide by, un-noticed but effective, like waves beneath the bowsprit.

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010.

see full review here

Joan Kaplowitz, Transforming information literacy instruction using Learner-Centered Teaching. NY: Neal-Schuman, 2012.

see full review here

John Bean, Engaging Ideas, 2nd edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.

“The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thing, and active learning in the classroom,” according to the subtitle, this book delivers. In four parts--Understanding connections between thinking and writing; Designing problem-based assignments; Coaching students as learners, thinkers, and writers; and Reading, commenting on, and grading student writing--Bean clearly shows why writing is important for learning and how to make it a more prominent part of any class--without necessarily creating a lot of additional work for the instructor. Recommended for anyone who teaches at high school or higher levels, no matter the subject.

Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days. NY: Penguin, 1986.

This heartfelt homage to small-town America, describing the fictional Minnesota village made famous in Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio show, shines with gentle humor.

Sarah Bee and Satoshi Kitamura, The Yes. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 2014.

In this boldly-colored picture book, the great big orange thing called Yes has a where to go. To get there, though, he must get past many obstacles. He must also get away from the hoards of Nos that want to stop him. Can he?