Book Review: Houston Baseball – The Early Years 1861-1961

Title:  Houston Baseball – The Early Years 1861-1961

Editor and Contributors:  

Mike Vance (editor) with Bill McCurdy, Bob Dorrill, Joe Thompson, Steve Bertone, Marsha Franty and Mickey Herskowitz

Published:  2014 by Bright Sky Press; 368 pages; ISBN – 978-1-939055-74-3; $49.95 new

Special purchase offer:  While they last, SABR Hornsby Chapter members can purchase this book for $40.00, delivered.  Send a check made out to "Houston Baseball – The Early Years" c/o Bob Dorrill, 2318 Crimson Valley Court, Kingwood, TX 77345.

This book is a project of SABR’s Larry Dierker Chapter and chronicles baseball in Houston prior to the arrival of the Major League Colt .45s in 1962.  Individual chapters cover different eras of baseball in Houston – including:  Ante-bellum early baseball (1836-1861); pre-professional ball (1861-1887); early professional baseball (1888-1905);  the Texas League and affiliation with the Cardinals; and the Post-WWII era and transition to the Majors.  

Other chapters portray Houston’s ballparks, the Dixie Series, Black baseball, Amateur and Semi-Pro ball, and Spring Training/Exhibition baseball in Houston.  

No matter your particular interests in baseball, this well-researched and richly illustrated book has something for everyone.  Details of ante-bellum baseball (yes, there was baseball in Houston before the Civil War helped the sport to expand), the Buffaloes’ long relationship with Branch Rickey and the Cardinals, and the machinations that brought major league baseball to Houston, all offer revealing insight into the history of baseball in the Bayou City.

Whether or not you’re from Houston, a Buffs or Astros fan, a SABR member should enjoy this outstanding book.   

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