Baseball in America (Academic Edition)

I have found a place in America where February baseball lives!

For the Presidents Day holiday, I’m in Southern California for Family Weekend at Claire’s college.  We’re new to this whole Parents/Family Weekend deal, but if today is any indication I could definitely get use to these trips!

This morning, I visited two political science classes that were very interesting.  One compared the works of Luther and Calvin; the other focused on the U.S. Congress.  Claire joined me for lunch at her favorite dining hall  (most of her classes – of the science variety – weren’t open to parents).  But as she prepares for the conference championships this weekend for her swim team, I’ve found myself with choices for how to spend my time that are entirely up to me.

Which takes me to Baseball in America.

That’s the title of the class I attended after lunch.  It was a synopsis of a fall semester interdisciplinary class that was designed to introduce freshmen to the rigors of college-level writing.  Taught by a life-long Dodgers fan (and politics professor), we had a great discussion about baseball writers such as Tom Boswell, Roger Angell, and even John Updike (yes, for that classic Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu piece on Ted Williams’ last game).  I brought up Boz’s classic line on last September’s Red Sox collapse:  Red Sox, report to the River Styx at dawn.  After class, I recommended Elizabeth Bobrick’s Oriole Magic, about the classic writing in the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Washington Star during the 1979 season.

So what are the texts for Baseball in America?  Just a terrific list of books about baseball, cities, economics, race relations, and scandal:

  • Asinof, Eight Men Out
  • Bouton, Ball Four
  • Costas, Fair Ball
  • Helyar, Lords of the Realm
  • Kirwin (ed.), Out of the Shadows
  • Lewis, Moneyball
  • Mitchell, The Mitchell Report
  • Simon, Jackie Robinson
  • Sullivan, The Dodgers Move West
    (accompanied by a side bar about Robert Moses)
  • Zimbalist, May the Best Team Win

So what better thing to do after talking about baseball than go watch a game.  As luck would have it, the home nine was in action this afternoon on a picture perfect day with a snow-covered mountain as a backdrop.

The school knew how to pick a foe for Family Weekend:  the home team won 16-1.  I spent a good bit of the game sitting next to a father of a young woman (also a freshman) from Seattle just talking – about Ichiro, Strasburg, and everything in between.

I had no idea when I signed up for this weekend that I would be able to scratch my baseball itch.  But I’m sure glad I did.

Play ball!

More to come…

DJB

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