Title: But Didn’t We Have Fun?: An Informal History of Baseball’s Pioneer Era, 1843-1870
Author: Peter Morris
Genre: Baseball, Baseball History, History
The story of baseball in America begins not with the fabled Abner Doubleday but with a generation of mid-nineteenth-century Americans who moved from the countryside to the cities and brought a cherished but delightfully informal game with them.
The author points out in the preface that using the historical record of the early days of baseball to just present a recitation of stats would be boring. Unfortunately, the approach taken here was boring.
I am a life long baseball fan and love the Ken Burns classic Baseball series. There is a reason Burns ably covers the first inning the way he does. The detailed look into the varied history of baseball is dry reading.
An academic point needs to be made too. The author is guilty of interpreting evidence so that it supports his thesis. The interpretation is not balanced and pales when reviewed with a moderate eye.
There were a couple of entertaining sections but in the end, I cannot recommend this book to anyone and I am giving the copy I bought away.
Disclaimer: I bought a hardcover copy from AmazonCA.
My Rating: 2 stars
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Peter Morris is a baseball researcher and author most famous for a two-volume book on the history of innovations in baseball entitled A Game of Inches, as well as for Baseball Fever, a history of baseball in Michigan and But Didn’t We Have Fun?, a compendium of quotes from players and fans about old-time baseball. He has twice won the Seymour Medal. He is also known as a tremendous researcher, who has taken over the late Lee Allen’s mantle as a sleuth who can unearth biographical details about obscure ballplayers from the past through his work for SABR’s Biographical Research Committee. Ironically, one of the players he has helped to identify is his namesake, Peter Morris.
Morris was honored as one of the first nine winners of the Henry Chadwick Award in 2010. It was not his first time as a pioneer: in 1991, he won the first World Scrabble Championship. Born in the United Kingdom, he grew up in Toronto, ON where he went to university, obtaining a master’s degree in English.
Reviewed by: Mr. N