Tile Books Announces Release of 4th Installment in Howard Rosenberg's "Cap Anson" Series
April 7, 2006
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963)
Dr. King's statement from more than 30 years ago rings true in so many ways. While racial prejudice was Dr. King's main concern, prejudice of all kinds still exists. Author Howard W. Rosenberg, by having published Anson's definitive biography on his own, often receives second-class treatment because many newspapers automatically give preferential treatment or exclusive attention to the books of established publishers. With Anson, a great irony is that his book Cap Anson 4: Bigger Than Babe Ruth: Captain Anson of Chicago (and the overall Cap Anson series) provides the last word on the player most often blamed for the sport's color line: Adrian Constantine"Cap" Anson. For one thing, Anson is one of the great magnets of criticism in the game's history, and Cap Anson 4 is the rare book that reliably presents his side of any story. The book achieves this by liberally quoting him or the reporters most likely to reflect his thinking, especially Chicago writer Harry Palmer.
In addition, Cap Anson 4 offers readers hefty revelations from start to finish. The book starts out in a divisive way (as Anson himself might have relished doing), by directly comparing media coverage that Anson and Babe Ruth received. In addition to casting a shadow on journalism of Ruth's day, Cap Anson 4 argues (with a wealth of supporting evidence) that Anson drew the wittiest coverage in the game's history. The book also presents a rich record of original reportage to defend its claim that Anson was the first player to draw sustained interesting coverage during a long post career (24 years: 1898 to 1922).
Otherwise, Cap Anson 4 contains the following revelations:
1. While affirming the validity of certain claims about Anson's racism, it finds that no "smoking gun" exists that he is responsible for the drawing of baseball's color line in the 1880s. Anson's name in that regard appears prominently in Jules Tygiel's foreword in Shades of Glory, a 2006 survey book on black baseball commissioned as part of a $250,000 grant by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In the foreword, Tygiel states that Anson is "often portrayed as the architect of baseball segregation." In a timely way, Cap Anson 4 offers 24 straight pages on Anson's racism and its alleged impacts.
2. It presents the first-ever bottom line on Anson's interactions with ten of his most notable teammates, including player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday. For the first time anywhere, Cap Anson 4 shows that Sunday helped bail out Anson financially after he went bankrupt in 1910. Anson and Sunday were the first pair of baseball teammates to notably branch out into disparate, mass-audience pursuits after their ball careers: Anson in vaudeville (throughout the 1910s) and Sunday on the sawdust trail. None of the prior book-length biographies of Sunday have come this close to fully reflecting the relationship of Anson and Sunday until Anson's death in 1922.
Anson is best known for being the only player through 1900 to have the longevity, in relatively shorter seasons of that era, to amass 3,000 hits. His major status also includes being arguably one of the first two superstars of baseball (along with the lesser-known Mike Kelly). Anson also continues to have great notoriety, especially in Chicago, where he played 22 seasons, 19 as captain-manager. In the Chicago Sun-Times of Sept. 16, 2003, social historian Studs Terkel called Anson "the son of a bitch who kept blacks out of baseball."
Author Rosenberg researched the book in arguably the most impressive of ways, mainly at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. By a landslide, it is the foremost place to research historical U.S. figures, and Rosenberg lives just a few miles away from it.
Beyond its sheer volume of research, the book's significance can be seen in other respects. In recent baseball books, from often excessively racially correct authors, Anson has been on the receiving end of cheap shots galore. Here is how Rosenberg interprets the thinking of several authors he has read:
1. Anson is an unsympathetic figure because he was a racist.
2. Whenever there is a chance to make him look good or bad, and the matter is subjective, it is better to err on the side of the bad, because it is hard to be sympathetic to him.
By contrast, in researching Anson, Rosenberg was dispassionate enough to make sure he tried to find Anson's side of the story, if one existed. That also means that for the first time, anyone looking to truly roast Anson has a definitive place they can turn to, to see where he truly can be cast in a negative, neutral or positive light.
The release of Cap Anson 4 comes two years after Rosenberg's definitive biography of Kelly: Cap Anson 2: The Theatrical and Kingly Mike Kelly: U.S. Team Sport's First Media Sensation and Baseball's Original Casey at the Bat. Anson and Kelly are the cream of early baseball, for being stars with one-of-a-kind personalities that reporters latched onto: Anson was bluff and gruff while Kelly was often half-serious. However, both are often wrongly presented in the baseball books of mainstream publishers that book review sections lay out a red carpet toward. That is because what often sounds most interesting about Anson or Kelly to the modern ear, and thus to mainstream publishers, is often taken from half-baked stories that sound good, or scant research. Kelly and Anson themselves helped ensure such a legacy by their manner of speech. Also, things that were said about them were sometimes figurative. For example, in his day, Anson was said to have ruled with an iron hand. From that, some recent writers have extrapolated that Anson hit his players.
Earlier books in the Cap Anson series accounted for Anson's breadth in ways not duplicated in Cap Anson 4. The four-book series (Cap Anson 1 through Cap Anson 4) offers lovers of baseball history a rare chance to read about the same controversial star in a variety of fair, detailed and nonrepetitive contexts:
Cap Anson 1: When Captaining a Team Meant Something: Leadership in Baseball's Early Years (2003) surveyed topics relating to serving as a captain, manager, or captain-manager. For his long tenure with Chicago of the National League, Anson was liberally presented along with many contemporaries for their handling of players or dealing with club officials.
Cap Anson 2 (2004), besides being Kelly's definitive bio and the definitive look at baseball's ties to the theater through 1900, presented Anson for his trapshooting and 1895 acting careers (Anson was the first baseball player to have star billing on the stage). It also presented Anson for some other off-the-field sporting interests through 1900 and his views on conditioning.
Cap Anson 3: Muggsy John McGraw and the Tricksters: Baseball's Fun Age of Rule Bending (2005) showed the extent of tricky and dirty play through 1900. Serving in a supporting role to the famed Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s was Anson's Chicago club (and Kelly, for his Chicago and later Boston career). Cap Anson 3 also is John McGraw's definitive bio through 1900, or the first 85 percent of McGraw's playing career.
Cap Anson 4 specifications:
Hardcover ISBN 0-9725574-3-1 $33.00
560 regularly numbered pages
7 x 10 inches
Publication Date: April 2006
181 drawings, index, full endnotes, six appendices
Section and Chapter Titles:
Baseball Before Ring Lardner
Anson and Ruth
Introduction to Roasts
Relative Advantages of Nineteenth-Century Coverage
Images of Anson
Anson's Moods (and Mustache)
Hitting, Fielding and Pitching Overview (and additional overview: scope of books in series)
Ady Grows Up
Rockford and Philadelphia, 1871-75
Getting to Chicago
Pre-Captain Years, 1876-78
On High, 1879-86
Still Contenders, 1887-91
Appendix A: 1900 American Association
Appendix B: Anson's Betting on Sprints
Appendix C: Years-Later Stories
Appendix D: Anson and Blacks
Appendix E: Superstitions
Appendix F: Timeline
Author's contact information:
Howard W. Rosenberg
1111 Arlington Boulevard
Number 235 West
Arlington, Virginia 22209
(703) 841-9523 (telephone)