Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book #80

Clark Griffth: The Old Fox of Washington Baseball, by Ted Leavengood.

As a baseball fan from Washington (go Nationals!), Clark Griffith was a name I was familiar with, and his basic biography (top-notch pitcher to manager to club owner) I knew. But this in-depth book fills in almost all of the gaps.

Griffith played in late 1800's, leading the league in ERA in 1898. His managing career began in 1901, while he was still playing. and won the pennant in his first year. His last managerial stop was with the new Washington Nationals in 1912, and he was able to gain an ownership stake in the club. After a career as a baseball vagabond, Griffith found his home.

The pinnacle of Griffith's tenure as owner was a World Series victory in 1924, after which the Nationals began their slow descent into mediocrity. The team struggled to stay afloat financially during Griffith's last decade of life. His son Clark moved the team to Minnesota in 1961, shortly after Clark's death.

The book is thoroughly researched and well-written. The focus is baseball, and these aspects of the book are very detailed. But Leavengood manages to work in discussions of historical and social issues of the times, as well. His coverage of the racial tensions in Washington and in baseball during Griffith's life is one of the stengths of this book.

Disclosure: I received this as a free ARC through

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