“Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress” is a lavishly illustrated history of the national pastime that tells the history of the sport’s hardscrabble origins, rich cultural heritage and uniquely American character.
Published in association with Smithsonian Books/Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, “Baseball Americana” draws upon images from the Library’s collections of prints and photographs, films, magazines, music, maps, rare books and manuscripts. Also included are items from the Veterans History Project collection, housed in the American Folklife Center. Through photographs, personal accounts, official game guides, newspaper accounts, films and memorabilia—including baseball cards—the book offers a firsthand look at the development of baseball from the late 18th century through the 20th century.
“Interest in baseball runs remarkably deep in America, shared by men, women and children of every race, religion, age, ethnic group, social and economic class,” said author Harry L. Katz.
Katz is the former head curator of the Prints and Photographs Division in the Library of Congress. His books include “Cartoon America” (2006), “Herblock: The Life of a Great Political Cartoonist” (2009) and a forthcoming book on Civil War drawings.
Baseball historian and appraiser Frank Ceresi, Prints and Photographs Division digital image curator Phil Michel and Publishing Office writer-editors Susan Reyburn and Wilson McBee also contributed to the book, which includes a preface by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and baseball enthusiast George F. Will.
More than 350 images—many never-before published—chronicle the game’s venerable history. Among the Library’s treasures featured in the book are the first-known written reference to baseball, from the diary of New Jersey college student John Rhea Smith (1786); the first image of baseball printed in America (1787); the first dated baseball card, featuring the Brooklyn Atlantics (1865), a rare chromolithograph of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings; and a 1920s news service photo depicting Babe Ruth knocked unconscious in the outfield just minutes before continuing to play in a double-header.
“Baseball Americana,” a 265-page book with more than 350 images, is available for $29.99 from the Library of Congress Shop (www.loc.gov/shop/) or by calling (888) 682-3557. It is also available in bookstores nationwide and online.