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American Empire and Baseball


Robert Elias, professor of politics and honors humanities at the University of San Francisco, is among the finalists for the Casey Award, bestowed on the best baseball book of the year.

Elias’ book, The Empire Strikes Out: How Baseball Sold U.S. Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad examines the role of baseball from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War to George W. Bush and the Iraq War in developing the American empire. It has been named a San Francisco Chronicle “Bay Area Notable Book.”

Elias2Web“From Albert Spalding and baseball’s first world tour to Bud Selig and the World Baseball Classic, we see the globalization of America’s national pastime and baseball’s missionary role in spreading the American Dream,” Elias said.

So has baseball been used to good or evil ends? “It’s a mixed bag,” Elias said. A big fan of baseball, he believes the sport offers something worth sharing with the rest of the world. “Yet, it has been used as a tool of imperialism (at times) and because of its close association to aggressive foreign policy, the sport has missed opportunities to become even more popular around the world.”

Facing stiff competition from notable journalist/authors such as Jane Leavy and James Hirsch, who produced biographies on Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, respectively, as well as others, Elias said he’s honored to be in such good company.

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine named Howard Bryant the 2010 Casey Award winner in January for his book The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron.

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu