“Chasing Baseball,” by Dorothy Seymour Mills. McFarland. 258 pages. $39.95.
Naples resident Dorothy Mills has had a distinguished career as a writer of children’s books and historical novels. Until recently, her career as a trailblazer in the field of baseball history was relatively unknown. Her biography, “A Woman’s Work: Writing Baseball History with Harold Seymour”(2004), allowed her to step out of the shadows and gain recognition as her first husband’s partner in the momentous three-volume history of baseball published by Oxford University Press. Her new book, “Chasing Baseball: Our Obsession with Its History, Numbers, People, and Places,” presents not only a wide array of information about the national pastime, but also the author’s views on the relationship between baseball and American values.
“Chasing Baseball” is two books in one. Part One, “A Manly Pursuit,” examines the values of the game as a reflection of national character understood as manly traits. Also in this section, Mrs. Mills details the contrast between what she labels “The Amateur Spirit,” in which participation derives from a true love of the sport, and the business of professional baseball, in which those essential values – over the many decades of growth – have been compromised if not obliterated. When the dollar rules, fair play often does not. For the amateur, the joy of competing is everything, for the professional and certainly for the team owner, the bottom line – winning and its cash rewards – is what it’s all about.
Throughout her discussion, Dorothy Mills draws upon her vast learning and her story-telling skills, allowing readers to see and feel the broader, more abstract issues. Her book is at once friendly and philosophical, colorful and educational. Many myths about baseball are undermined, including the one about it being invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY.
To read this article in its entirety, as it appears in the April 1-7, 2010 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Chasing Baseball pdf