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BaseballChronology.com: Seymour Medal Honorees

By Patrick Mondout

SABR (Society For American Baseball Research) annually awards the Seymour Medal to the best book of baseball history or biography published in the previous year. The bronze medal - which can be seen on the far right of this page, honors baseball historians Harold and Dorothy Seymour (now known as Dorothy Jane Mills). A committee of three SABR members, appointed by the president of the organization and rotating so that at least one member is replaced each year, vote for the annual awards. According to SABR, the winning book shall have, "significantly advanced our knowledge of baseball and shall be characterized by understanding, factual accuracy, profound insight and distinguished writing."

We have a list of all winners from 1996-2007 below, including links to the book at Amazon.com for your convenience. Note that the winners are announced in April for the previous year. Even though we list Neil Lanctot's book as the 2005 winner (it was announced in April of 2005), we realize he was the "2004 winner." Click on a year below to see the winners and finalists.

SABR'S SEYMOUR MEDAL WINNERS
YEAR WINNER
2007 A Game of Inches by Peter Morris

A Game of Inches is an encyclopedic story of innovation in baseball. Professional researcher Peter Morris documents every detail of baseball innovations from rules to equipment and from umpires to intentional walks. Who threw the first brushback pitch? That is a hard question whose answer is blurred by the evolution of overhand pitching, changing rules that originally did not allow batters a base after being hit, and increasing competitiveness in the early game. Morris answers the question elegantly, weaving early newspaper accounts with modern scholarship and sensible conclusions. Read more...
2006 Baseball Before We Knew It by David Block

"Block's book takes readers on an exhilarating journey through the centuries in search of clues to the evolution of our modern National Pastime. Among his startling discoveries is a set of long-forgotten baseball rules from the 1700s. Block evaluates the originality and historical significance of the Knickerbocker rules of 1845, revisits European studies on the ancestry of baseball which indicate that the game dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, and assembles a detailed history of games and pastimes from the Middle Ages onward that contributed to baseball's development. In its thoroughness and reach, and its extensive descriptive bibliography of early baseball sources, this book is a unique and invaluable resource-a comprehensive, reliable, and readable account of baseball before it was America's game." Read more...
2005 Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution by Neil Lanctot

"Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution presents the extraordinary history of a great African American achievement, from its lowest ebb during the Depression, through its golden age and World War II, until its gradual disappearance during the early years of the civil rights era. Faced with only a limited amount of official league documents and correspondence, Lanctot consulted virtually every sports page of every black newspaper located in a league city. He then conducted interviews with former players and scrutinized existing financial, court, and federal records. Through his efforts, Lanctot has painstakingly reconstructed the institutional history of black professional baseball, locating the players, teams, owners, and fans in the wider context of the league's administration. In addition, Lanctot provides valuable insight into the changing attitudes of African Americans toward the need for separate institutions." Read more...
2004 Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan by Peter Morris

"In this well-researched study of Michigan baseball from the 1830s to the 1870s, baseball scholar Peter Morris offers many answers. Drawing on such sources as personal memoirs, period photographs, and an extensive, often hilarious variety of newspaper accounts, he paints a vivid portrait of a game that was widely--if erratically--played well before the Civil War and gradually evolved from an informal amusement into an activity for local groups of young men and finally into a serious, organized sport." Read more...
2003 Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era by Charles Alexander

"Breaking the Slump is the engrossing story of baseball during the 1930s, when the National Pastime came of age as a business, an entertainment, and a passion, and when the teams of the American and National Leagues fielded perhaps the greatest rosters in the history of the game. Whether as rookies, stars in their prime, or legends on the wane, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Dizzy Dean, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio all left their mark on the game and on the American imagination in the decade before America's entry into the World War II. In one remarkable year, 1934, the entire starting lineup of the American League All-Stars consisted of future Hall of Famers. This surfeit of talent provided much needed entertainment to a nation struggling through economic hardship on an enormous scale." Read more...
2002 Early Baseball and the Rise of the National League by Tom Melville

"Did modern baseball spontaneously arise from the genius of the American people? Did professionalism arise simply from a desire to turn baseball into a business? Did William Hulbert, organizer of the National League, really "save" baseball? These are three of the questions examined in this work about early baseball's role in American culture. Beginning with an introduction to the sport as achievement and expression, the author takes a close look at the early demand in New York for "the best against the best" in baseball and argues that this demand was contradictory to society's equally persistent demand that displays of "the best against the best" be locally accessible. This work offers insights into how baseball operated in its early days, with special attention paid to the National Association and how the National League came into being." Read more...
2001 Past Time: Baseball as History by Jules Tygiel

"Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of the game, Tygiel uses the game as his doorway for entry into--and airing out--several rooms of the American past. Though the nine essays that make up Past Time reflect the game's nine innings and are presented chronologically, they are each entities unto themselves and can be read in any order. Rarely stepping onto the playing field, they avoid the mushiness and rhapsodizing that baseball tends to evoke. Instead, they take provocative looks at the often overlooked--like why statistics hold the game together, and why holding the game together was crucial to an America emerging from the Civil War--and fresh looks at old warhorses like baseball and the Depression era, baseball and civil rights, and baseball and America's post-World War II geographical shift. The final "inning" examines such recent obsessions as rotisserie leagues and fantasy camps, and the chapter on Bobby Thompson's famed home run and how the ways we would experience the game in the early years of the Cold War would change is thoroughly absorbing. But, then, so is the rest of Past Time. It has you wishing for extra 'innings.'" Read more...
2000 Baseball's Pivotal Era, 1945-1951 by Bill Marshall

"With personal interviews of players and owners and with over two decades of research in newspapers and archives, Bill Marshall tells of the players, the pennant races, and the officials who shaped one of the most memorable eras in sports and American history." Read more...
1999 Baseball's Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley's Oakland A's by Bruce Markusen

A year by year look at the building of the Team of the Super70s.
1998 The Detroit Tigers: Club and Community, 1945-95 by Patrick Harrigan

"This study of the Detroit Tigers over a half-century demonstrates how baseball has reflected the fortunes of America's postwar urban society. Patrick Harrigan shows that the declining fortunes of this franchise have been inextricably linked with those of its city and surrounding community. Attention is paid to major on-field exploits, but the focus is on the development of the ball club as a corporate enterprise and its symbiotic relationship with metropolitan Detroit." Read more...
1997 Honus Wagner, The Life of Baseball's "Flying Dutchman" by Arthur D. Hittner

"Regarded by many of his contemporaries as the greatest baseball player of all time, John Peter “Honus” Wagner enjoyed a remarkable career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His record of 17 consecutive .300-plus seasons is a mark that will probably never be broken. He led the National League eight times in hitting, six times in slugging percentage and five times in stolen bases. Known as the Flying Dutchman, he also excelled in the field, defining the shortstop position for a generation." Read more...
1996 Fleet Walker's Divided Heart by David W. Zang

"For the record, Moses "Fleetwood" Walker was born in Ohio four years before the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, attended Oberlin College, studied law at the University of Michigan, was acquitted of first-degree murder in Syracuse, was granted a patent for an artillery shell, was convicted of mail robbery in Ohio, ran a hotel, edited a newspaper, wrote a well-regarded treatise advocating the emigration of blacks back to Africa, and spent the years before his death in 1924 running a theater that offered opera, live drama, and motion pictures." Read more...
BEST BASEBALL BOOKS OF EACH YEAR ACCORDING TO SABR

Note: Reviews from Amazon.com or the book's publisher (which have quotes around them above). appear courtesy of the publisher or Amazon.com.
 
 
 

SEYMOUR MEDAL


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