Monday, October 27, 2014

A little research, please

In Summer of ’49, author David Halberstam makes this claim: “They were an odd mix, the players and writers. The players were more often than not rural Southern Protestants; the writers were urban Irish and Jews.” P. 95, Nookbook edition.

Common sense, and a little knowledge of population, says the statement cannot be accurate. In 1949, total population in the Southern states was far less than in the North, when one assigns all states outside the South in one group. Only if a far greater percentage of Southerners played baseball could Southern ballplayers could outnumber Northern players.

Since Halberstam’s book focuses on the Red Sox and Yankees, and on New York and Boston sportswriters, I accessed team rosters at www.baseball-almanac.com. Here are the number of ballplayers on both teams combined and states/provinces of birth:

California – 11; New York – 7; New Jersey – 4; Pennsylvania – 4; Washington – 4; Maryland – 3; Alabama – 3; Ohio – 3; two each from Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina; and one player each from Saskatchewan, Michigan,Virginia, Utah, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nebraska, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan and Kentucky.

When a writer of Halberstam’s reputation makes such an unsubstantiated, inaccurate statement, you have to wonder about his other writings.

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