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Cap Anson 1: When Captaining a Team Meant Something Leadership in Baseball's Early Years
by:Howard W. Rosenberg
Baseball Hall of Famer Cap Anson was the most closely reported professional or amateur team athlete in the United States in the nineteenth century. While his greatest success was in being the lone player before 1900 to reach 3,000 hits, this book, Cap Anson 1 (2003), examines him through his managerial and captaining roles with Chicago's National League...
Baseball Hall of Famer Cap Anson was the most closely reported professional or amateur team athlete in the United States in the nineteenth century. While his greatest success was in being the lone player before 1900 to reach 3,000 hits, this book, Cap Anson 1 (2003), examines him through his managerial and captaining roles with Chicago's National League team (the White Stockings, later known better as the Colts, before they became the modern-day Cubs) from 1879 to 1897. In executing those roles, he was sometimes like other captains, bench managers or captain-managers of his day, and the book liberally cites other captains and managers. Chicago was special in that era in projecting itself as a model to other teams, such as in disciplining players for not drinking. Presented in great detail is Anson's enforcement of team rules, as proscribed by Chicago's management including club Presidents William Hulbert and Albert Spalding, both of whom are fellow Hall of Famers. While discipline might sound serious, baseball writers of that era often exercised their craft in a witty style, and had yet to adopt a central tenet of baseball journalism today (that baseball players should be concerned about their actions because they are "role models"). Also relative to today, labor-management relations in baseball used to be a lot funnier, because management had the upper hand and the vast majority of players had humble upbringings. Also, in Anson's day leading a professional team of athletes was something new (1871 was the very first year that all players on a team received a salary). So, a study of managing and captaining in his day lays the groundwork for understanding baseball of the twentieth century and today. Such a study also provides the greatest contrast possible to the superficial way in which media today often cover the workings of baseball teams, such as by closely tracking injuries and roster moves, while, of course, overwhelming us with statistics. As far as Anson, this is the first book (with the exception of his ghostwritten autobiography in the year 1900) in which he is definitively and independently discussed. In 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 (2004), Anson was featured for his 19th-century theatrical career, relationship with Kelly and off-the-field activities such as trapshooting.
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