A vivid history of the long-ago season when a band of barkeeps, brewers, and showbiz stars re-imagined baseball to make it truly “America’s game”

Chris von der Ahe knew next to nothing about baseball when he risked his life’s savings to found the franchise that would become the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the German-born beer garden proprietor would become one of the most important—and funniest—figures in the game’s history.

Von der Ahe picked up the team for one reason—to sell more beer. Then he helped gather a group of ragtag clubs into a maverick new league that would fight the haughty National League. Sneered at as “The Beer and Whiskey Circuit,” their American Association ended up revitalizing the sport, bringing Americans of all classes back to the ballpark. Their recipe: Sunday games, booze, 25-cent-tickets, with teams comprised of exciting, renegade, and often drunk, players.

Edward Achorn re-creates this wondrous and hilarious world and illuminates a long- forgotten turning point in American baseball history.

Edward Achorn, a journalist and Pulitzer prize finalist for distinguished commentary, is the deputy editorial pages editor of the Providence Journal and author of Fifty-Nine in ’84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had. He has won numerous writing awards and his work appears in The Best Newspaper Writing, 2007-2008. His reviews of books on American history appear frequently in the Weekly Standard. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island. (PublicAffairs Books)

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