Robert Elias, professor of politics and honors humanities at
the University of San
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.”
“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.