The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City (Hardcover)

The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City By Kevin Baker Cover Image

The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City (Hardcover)

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The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice • A hugely entertaining history of baseball and New York City, bursting with larger-than-life figures and fascinating stories from the game’s beginnings to the end of World War II.

"You’re going to beg for extra innings. Without missing a scandal or a sensation, with an eye on how assimilation transforms the picture, Kevin Baker has written a buoyant, double coming-of-age story. "—Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author


Baseball is “the New York game” because New York is where the diamond was first laid out, where the bunt and the curveball were invented, and where the home run was hit. It’s where the game’s first stars were born, and where everyone came to play or watch the game. With nuance and depth, historian Kevin Baker brings this all vividly back to life: the still-controversial, indelible moments—Did the Babe call his shot? Was Merkle out? Did they fix the 1919 World Series? Here are all the legendary players, managers, and owners, in all their vivid, complicated humanity, on and off the field. 

In Baker’s hands the city and the game emerge from the murk of nineteenth-century American life—driven by visionaries and fixers, heroes and gangsters. He details how New York and its favorite sport came to mirror one another, expanding, bumbling through catastrophe and corruption, and rising out of these trials stronger than ever. 

From the first innings played in vacant lots and tavern yards in the 1820s; to the canny innovations that created the very first sports league; to the superb Hispanic and Black players who invented their own version of the game when white baseball sought to exclude them. And all amidst New York’s own, incredible evolution from a raw, riotous town to a new world city. The New York Game is a riveting, rollicking, brilliant ode to America’s beloved pastime and to its indomitable city of origin.
KEVIN BAKER is a novelist, historian, and journalist. He has been a professional writer since the age of 13, working originally for the Gloucester Daily Times as a stringer covering school-boy sports. He is the coauthor of Reggie Jackson's Becoming Mr. October. His work as appeared in Harper’s, where he is also a contributing editor, New York Observer, The New York Times, and The New Republic. He lives in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9780375421839
ISBN-10: 0375421831
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 528
Language: English
"Let me put it this way: You’re going to beg for extra innings. Without missing a scandal or a sensation, with an eye on how assimilation transforms the picture, Kevin Baker has written a buoyant, double coming-of-age story. He leaves plenty of myths — and Abner Doubleday — by the wayside. He carries us on a high-octane tour from baseball’s early, pre-league days to the first box scores, past Giants, Bridegrooms, and Highlanders, to stadium singalongs and brawling, betting, and umpire-flattening. A naked Babe Ruth is the least of the wonders in this exuberant, deliriously readable, glorious grand slam of a book."—Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams

"No one knows New York City better than Kevin Baker, so it's only natural that he would breathe such spectacular life into the stories of the National Pastime in the Capital of Baseball.  A remarkable, complicated doubleheader of a book."— Ken Burns, filmmaker

"An insightful, beautifully crafted narrative...One hopes for a second volume from Kevin Baker, every bit as good as [The New York Game]."—David Oshinsky, The New York Times

"A brilliant writer makes a convincing case that New York City is, and always has been, the center of the baseball universe... Harper’s contributing editor Baker...is more than equal to [his] task, delivering a remarkably entertaining mixture of sports and social history...Baker combines top-shelf historical scholarship with the literary panache that marks the best sports writing, yielding a narrative gem that’s fast-paced, intricate, and consistently engaging. As implausible as it might seem, given the length and breadth of the book, readers will be left hoping that Baker is hard at work on a sequel...Until then, savor this massively impressive book by a talented author who is clearly in love with his subject. An exemplary sports book." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review*

"Deeply researched, playfully raucous... wonderfully readable, both erudite and streetwise... Baker’s approach is romantic but clear-eyed, idiosyncratic and veracious...You’ll be sad to see the final outs of The New York Game." —Chris Vognar, The Boston Globe

"The rise of the sport [baseball] as we know it was centered in Gotham, where big stadiums, heroic characters, and epic sportswriting once produced a pastime that bound a city together...[In] The New York Game... we get sharper engravings of brutal exploitation and raw appetite... [in] the one place where the necessary density of big money, large stadiums, and assorted crooks could remake the game from 'base ball'... the ninteenth-century country (and soldier camp) sport it had been, to 'baseball,' the big business it became."—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

"Baseball fans beyond Gotham’s gravitational pull might bristle at the notion that New York was the epicenter of the creation and growth of the game. But Baker’s raucous, revelatory, lovingly detailed account will win them over from the first pitch.... Baker...seamlessly weaves together the vibrant origin stories of the New York Yankees, New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the city’s Cuban and African American teams...A spellbinding history of a game and the city where it found itself." — Alan Moores, Booklist, starred review*

"Bestseller [Kevin] Baker (Paradise Alley) returns with a comprehensive and evocative account of America’s national pastime in the country’s largest city...In textured and painterly prose, Baker tells the parallel stories of how the game and the city developed ...to that end, the fantastic concluding bibliographical essay demonstrates the degree to which Baker’s work is built on the shoulders of the giants of New York City history writing. This doorstopper is a great way for baseball fans to kick-start the 2024 season." Publisher's Weekly

"This big boy may be the greatest-ever baseball book. If 'greatest' means most comprehensive, lively, erudite, and fun. It's also the consummate New York book. Imagine Robert Caro and Roger Angell joining forces, and turning to Doctorow for a spit polish. I read The New York Game in a state of protracted awe."—Darin Strauss, National Book Award winning author of Half a Life

"In The New York Game...Kevin Baker makes the case that America’s financial, media and cultural capital and its national pastime grew not in parallel, but were inextricably intertwined...the book ultimately succeeds... [weaving] together class, race, fame and rivalry to create a survey of the city and the sport’s overlapping interests."—Jason Kelly, Bloomberg

"Kevin Baker has effortlessly braided a century of baseball and New York history into a single, glorious narrative that is as witty and rollicking as it is surprising and enlightening. His command of both of his subjects is awe-inspiring, and yet he unspools it all with the grace and ease of a perfect swing. The New York Game will have you reading passages out loud to anyone within earshot. It's the most exhilarating book I've encountered in years."—Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning

"A triumph. This book stands among the finest of all baseball histories, with scholarly muscle and breathtaking literary grace. The New York Game will help readers see our national pastime—and our nation—through clear new eyes. I loved this book."—Jonathan Eig, author of King

“Kevin Baker’s The New York Game, which chronicles the story, characters and madcap happenings of baseball in New York, with its Robins and Highlanders and Superbras and Giants, will be a joy for any fan of baseball or Americana. It’s as colorful as it is strange, and is in fact the story of America told in another way.” —Rich Cohen, author of When the Game Was War: The NBA’s Best Season