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James T. Farrell and Baseball

Dreams and Realism on Chicago's South Side

Charles DeMotte

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 12/2019
Pages: 330
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496218704


James T. Farrell and Baseball is a social history of baseball on Chicago's South Side, drawing on the writings of novelist James T. Farrell along with historical sources. Charles DeMotte shows how baseball in the early decades of the twentieth century developed on all levels and in all areas of Chicago, America's second largest city at the time, and how that growth intertwined with Farrell's development as a fan and a writer who used baseball as one of the major themes of his work. DeMotte goes beyond Farrell's literary focus to tell a larger story about baseball on Chicago's South Side during this time—when Charles Comiskey's White Sox won two World Series and were part of a rich baseball culture that was widely played at the amateur, semipro, and black ball levels. DeMotte highlights the 1919–20 Black Sox fix and scandal, which traumatized not only Farrell and Chicago but also baseball and the broader culture. By tying Farrell's fictional and nonfictional works to Chicago's vibrant baseball history, this book fills an important gap in the history of baseball during the Deadball Era.               


Charles DeMotte is an adjunct professor of sociology at the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is the author of Bat, Ball, and Bible: Baseball and Sunday Observance in New York (Potomac Books, 2012).  


 "Charles DeMotte captures the colorful and vibrant world of James T. Farrell's boyhood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago—a teeming environment populated by youth of every race and ethnicity who dreamed the American dream and intermingled on the city's baseball fields. DeMotte shows how Farrell's affection for the game and his observation of the various subcultures in this milieu contributed to his life's work. The book is an engaging and thoroughly enlightening biography and work of social history."—Thomas Wolf, coauthor of Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland  

"Admirers of James T. Farrell who love baseball as he did will welcome this Farrell-tinted study of the evolution of organized baseball on Chicago's South Side in the early twentieth century, the place and time that the novelist made his own in Studs Lonigan and other works. Baseball fans new to Farrell will appreciate his kindred spirit and Mr. DeMotte's account of the sport's growth in the era of Ty Cobb and the Black Sox scandal, a time when young Farrell, too, was growing up."—Robert K. Landers, author of An Honest Writer: The Life and Times of James T. Farrell