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Northern Sandlots

Northern Sandlots: A Social History of Maritime Baseball

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    Northern Sandlots
    Book Description:

    Howell has written an informative and insightful social history that examines the transformation of Maritime community life from the 1860s to the late twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7778-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  5. 1 Laying Out the Field: Theoretical Approaches
    (pp. 3-12)

    Over the past decade or so the history of sport has established itself as one of the important concerns of the ‘new’ social history. To the early work of Peter Bailey on leisure in nineteenth-century Britain¹ and Robert Malcolmson’s pathbreaking study of popular recreations in pre-industrial England,² scholars have added a number of useful studies that rescue sport history from the celebratory impulses of sports enthusiasts.³ Much of this new work has focused upon the nineteenth century and the social and cultural transformation that accompanied the development of modern industrial capitalism. Two major approaches characterize recent work in this field....

  6. 2 First Innings: Baseball, Cricket, and the Bourgeois Ideal of Healthful Sport
    (pp. 13-36)

    On 7 May 1868 a group of about a dozen young Haligonians met at Doran’s Hotel on Sackville Street and Bedford Row to organize the Halifax Baseball Club and prepare for the upcoming season.¹ Although this was not the first time that baseball had made an appearance in the Maritimes – nor was it the first incarnation of the Halifax Club – the meeting at Doran’s Hotel was significant because it marked one of the earliest attempts to place baseball in Nova Scotia on an organized footing. Before this time, the game had been played sporadically amongst a random assortment of players...

  7. 3 New Players: Baseball and Working-Class Culture
    (pp. 37-54)

    By 1875 baseball was firmly rooted in the sporting life of the larger urban communities of the Maritimes and New England. The sport prospered in Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton in the Maritimes, and in Bangor, Houlton, Lewiston, Portland, Portsmouth, and Manchester in northern New England, and was beginning to extend its reach into dozens of smaller communities. Improved railway communication between New Brunswick and Maine and, moreover, the completion of the Intercolonial Railway to Halifax by 1876 provided greater opportunity for inter-urban competition, facilitated regional championship play, and led to the development of an integrated Maritime and New...

  8. 4 ‘Throw ’em Out’: Rowdyism, Respectability, and the Yankee Baseballist
    (pp. 55-73)

    In November of 1885 W.A. Frost wrote to the editor ofThe Varsityat the University of Toronto to protest the formation of a baseball club at the college. He warned Toronto’s students of the unfortunate class of people associated with the game, including a local saloon-keeper ‘who is notorious for his love of baseball and his generosity in bailing out of prison disreputable characters who are unfortunate enough to be placed under the restraints of the law.’ Frost purported not to be opposed to baseball as a sport – for intrinsically it ‘may be as good as either cricket or...

  9. 5 Gendered Baselines: The Tour of the Chicago Blackstockings
    (pp. 74-96)

    Early in August 1891 two baseball promoters, M.J. Raymond and William Burtnett, arrived in Saint John from Boston and registered at the Hotel Stanley. What made their visit different from that of the advanced agents of most barnstorming baseball clubs was that they represented a female nine, the Chicago Young Ladies’ Baseball Club, known as the Blackstockings, and were interested in arranging a tour of the Maritime provinces. Their hope was to have the club, which was at that time playing a series of games in Portland, Old Orchard, and Bangor, Maine, spend a month in the Maritimes, appearing in...

  10. 6 A Manly Sport: Baseball and the Social Construction of Masculinity
    (pp. 97-119)

    ‘Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men,’ observed the immortal Ty Cobb. ‘It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s ... a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.’¹ For Cobb, like many young boys who came of age at the turn of the century, the baseball diamond was a testing ground for manhood, offering boys a chance to prove their masculinity to their peers. Yet Cobb’s Darwinian sentiments were at odds with the ideals of many Victorian and progressive reformers when it came to defining the appropriate elements of manly character. Cobb regarded baseball...

  11. 7 Reforming the Game: Baseball in the Progressive Era
    (pp. 120-145)

    By the end of the nineteenth century, baseball was routinely accepted as the ‘National Game’ in the United States, and vied with lacrosse for a similar status in Canada.¹ Not just a playful escape from the frantic momentum of industrialization and burgeoning urbanization, baseball instead responded to the central concerns of the day. From its origins the game was quickly enmeshed in debates about respectable behaviour, the appropriate relationship between the sexes, how to balance individualism and collective enterprise, and the interactions between the white Anglo-Saxon majority and ethnic and racial minorities. At the same time, as a marketable commodity,...

  12. 8 Baseball as Civic Accomplishment: Regionalism, Nationalism, and Community Identity
    (pp. 146-170)

    By the First World War professional baseball had established a credibility that it lacked twenty years before. Through much of the nineteenth century, promoters of the game lamented the characterization of baseball as a rough and rowdy sport, tainted by gamblers, disreputable owners, and players who cared only about their own selfish interests. Beginning around the turn of the century, organized baseball entered into a process of reform, reining in irresponsible owners, establishing a more equitable relationship between the clubs and the players, raising player salaries, limiting gambling and rowdyism, and emphasizing the ‘scientific’ character of the game. Part of...

  13. 9 The ‘Others’: Race, Ethnicity, and Community Baseball
    (pp. 171-195)

    In the summer of 1936, the Dominion Hawks of the Cape Breton Colliery League, engaged twenty-six-year-old George ‘Whitey’ Michaels, a native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, as their new coach. A fine all-around ballplayer, and demon on the base paths, Michaels was equally proficient in the field, playing at first or third base, behind the plate, or in the outfield. Well known throughout the provinces as a member of a touring club that visited the Maritimes each year, Michaels was the kind of person, reporter Alex Nickerson of the HalifaxMorning Heraldobserved, that ‘just seems to fit in anywhere.’¹


  14. 10 Extra Innings: The Eclipse of Community Baseball
    (pp. 196-226)

    On 1 August 1942 two young boys stood outside the Capitol Theatre in Halifax, waiting patiently for the Saturday matinee. The theatre marquee announced the day’s feature film,Wings for the Eagle,starring Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan, another of Hollywood’s characteristic wartime exercises in the patriotic veneration of the American way. On this Saturday, however, the movie lines were noticeably shorter than usual, for across town an even more powerful symbol of America’s seeming virtue was readying himself to stride to the batter’s box at Halifax’s historic Wanderers Grounds. Halfway around the world, on the steamy South Pacific Island...

  15. Post-Game Reflections
    (pp. 227-232)

    Throughout its history, baseball in the Maritimes and New England, as elsewhere, has been deeply implicated in debates about class and gender, race and ethnicity, regionalism and nationalism, amateurism and professionalism, work and play, and the commercialization of leisure. For most of the nineteenth century, discussions about baseball’s social value were rooted in the vast renegotiation of class and gender relations that accompanied the development of the new industrial-capitalist order. Those debates, which centred upon prevailing notions of respectability and rowdiness, and upon ideas of appropriate manliness or femininity, reveal that sport was very much part of the constantly shifting...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 233-280)
  17. Index
    (pp. 281-286)
  18. Photo credits
    (pp. 287-287)