Texas has always answered the call to “play ball!”
The Texas Rangers will meet the Houston Astros this weekend as each team strives to win the Silver Boot in a Lone Star diamond face-off.
With the Houston Astros’ notable improvements this season, and the Texas Rangers considered by many in baseball circles as the league’s best team in 2012, the match has a “go big or go home” kind of flavor.
And so, we’ve chosen this week’s Free Book Friday, by veteran sportswriter Clay Coppedge, because it details the state’s long love affair with baseball.
Win a copy of Texas Baseball: A Lone Star Diamond History from Town Teams to the Big Leagues by commenting on this post by Sunday, May 20 (12:00 a.m., EST), and be sure to enjoy the chapter excerpt at the end of this post, too!
On April 21, 1867—the anniversary of Sam Houston’s victory over Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto—the Houston Stonewalls dominated the diamond, defeating the Galveston Robert E. Lees by a score of 35–2. These late nineteenth-century baseball games, often played in pastures where cattle kept the grass low, started out as bragging rights among neighbors.
Soon, however, entrepreneurs harnessed the passion of the friendly matches, charging admission and turning the Lone Star state into popular stomping grounds for developing players and ambitious businessmen. Teams like the 1908 New York Giants held spring training in Marlin, Texas, where hot mineral springs provided health benefits and anti-gambling/anti-drinking laws enticed strict managers.
From the early years that produced Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby and Ross Young to the Texas Rangers’ 2011 World Series appearance, veteran sportswriter Clay Coppedge provides the first comprehensive Texas baseball history to date. Coppedge chronicles the influence of the Texas League, the Negro League and celebrated players such as Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Wells and, of course, Nolan Ryan.
Join Coppedge as he traces local legends in Texas Baseball: A Lone Star Diamond History from Town Teams to the Big Leagues.
Clay Coppedge has written for newspapers and magazines for more than thirty years, including fourteen as a sportswriter. He is currently a staff writer and columnist for the Country World newspaper. Clay is also a columnist for TexasEscapes.com and a regular contributor to Texas Co-op Power magazine.