“Baseball Beyond Our Borders: An International Pastime” edited by George Gmelch and Daniel A. Nathan
Baseball, international, essays
March 1, 2017
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Baseball has become the “national pastime” for more than just the United States as the globalization of the game has grown exponentially in the last few decades. This is illustrated in this collection of essays about the game in 19 nations and two territories (Puerto Rico and Tasmania) across the globe.
The essays are terrific sources of information on how baseball has become part of the culture in many of these nations. In many cases, the origins of the game in these areas took place in the nineteenth century, just like the United States. There were even documented women’s teams in nations such as Canada. How the politics in a country affected the game was a very interesting topic, especially in some Latin American nations like Nicaragua and Cuba.
Readers will also learn more about international baseball topics of which they already may be familiar. The essays on Far Eastern nations such as Japan and Taiwan are examples of that. While some may be aware about Japan’s tradition of bowing at games and Taiwan’s dominance of the Little League World Series in the 1970’s and 1980’s, these topics, along with others, are discussed in further detail.
The book then finishes with discussions about nations who have now have thriving baseball cultures that more recently discovered the game, such as Australia and Israel. The last essay was the best one, a discussion on the World Baseball Classic and what it means to the international game.
Most collections of short fictional stories or non-fiction essays have a few duds in the mix, but that was not the case with this book. Every essay contained interesting information on the baseball played in the nation discussed, information that is most likely new to most readers. Some of the essays are quick and easy reads, some of them have to be digested slowly in order to be fully understood. But no matter how they are written, they are ones that should be read by readers who are interested in baseball as it is ingrained into the culture of nations around the world.
I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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