Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball

July 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Book Review, Your Turn

Barbara Gregorich, a Books on Baseball friend and author, has been kind enough to allow us to use a book review she recently completed — Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball.  Your Turn is a regular feature of Books on Baseball that spotlights our BoB friends as guest book reviewers.  Thanks Barb!

Barb’s Review — I grew up a baseball fan and as such was always interested in the players. I knew or cared little about managers, and nothing at all about general managers or league presidents. And while I knew about players from baseball’s earliest days, somehow the name of Joe Cronin escaped my attention. Upon reading Mark Armour’s Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, I am astonished not only that Cronin escaped my attention, but that I can actually admit this. 

This fact-filled book traces Joe Cronin from his San Francisco beginnings (he was born several months after the 1906 earthquake) as a player in the city’s playground baseball programs, to his highest peak, President of the American League. And in recounting Cronin’s career, from his 1925 signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates to his American League presidency of the 1960s, Armour covers a lot of baseball territory in a very informative way — player contracts and trades, player-managers, general managers, owners, the first All-Star game, and the War years. 

Particularly informative are the chapters on how Cronin and the Red Sox failed to embrace the influx of African-American players from the Negro Leagues — a self-imposed barrier that kept the Sox organization from signing talented players and fielding the best possible nine. As Armour puts it: “The strongest evidence against the Red Sox, and against Cronin, is circumstantial yet undeniable — the Red Sox very obviously did not have any black players. This fact, whether due to policy or simply incompetence, did untold damage to the Red Sox of the 1950s and beyond.” 

[At Left: Player-Manager Cronin of the Wash Senators on 1933 Goudey Card]

I found every chapter of this book interesting and informative. In the final chapters we see the emergence of the modern era: expansion west, north, and southward; Charles O. Finley’s challenges; the birth and growth of the Major League Players Association; the DH rule; and the ascendancy of the American League. 

Joe Cronin is a baseball man worth know about, and Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, is a book very worth reading.

Link to Q&A with Mark Armour by Baseball Prospectus…

Link to Podcast with Mark Armour from Cover The Bases…

Author Bio: Mark Armour

Mark Armour, heads up SABR’s Biography Project and is a regular contributor to Society of American Baseball Research journals. Armour is the coauthor of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way and editor of Rain Check: Baseball in the Pacific Northwest.

Your Turn Bio: Barbara Gregorich

Barbara Gregorich has lived in Cleveland, Boston, and Chicago and at one time believed that neither the Indians nor the Red Sox nor the White Sox nor the Cubs would ever again win a World Series.  She has been proven wrong twice in the past decade: she yearns to be proven wrong twice more. 

Barbara is the author of the 1987 novel, She’s on First, which was published in hardback, paperback, Kindle e-book, and in Japanese translation.  She’s on First received excellent reviews and is now available in reprint. Several years after the publication of her novel, Barbara wrote the nonfiction Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball,which earned the SABR-MacMillan Award.

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