Northern Sandlots is the story of the rise and fall of regional baseball on the northeast coast of North America. Colin Howell writes about the social and economic influence of baseball on community life in the Maritimes and New England during the past century, from its earliest spread from cities and towns into the countryside, to the advent of television, and the withering of local semi-pro leagues after the Second World War.
The history of sport is an important feature of the 'new' social history. Howell discusses how baseball has been deeply implicated in debates about class and gender, race and ethnicity, regionalism and nationalism, work and play, and the commercialization of leisure. Baseball's often overlooked connection to medical and religious discourse is also explored.
Howell begins with the game's earliest days when it was being molded by progressive reformers to meet what they considered to be the needs of an emerging industrial society. He then turns to the interwar years when baseball in the Maritimes became strictly amateur, revealing an emerging sense of community solidarity and regional identity. The game flourished at the community level after the Second World War, before it eventually succumbed to the new, commodified, and nationally marketed sporting culture that accompanied the development of the modern consumer society. Finally, Howell shows that fundamental changes in the nature of capitalism after the war, and in the economic and social reality of small towns and cities, hastened the death of a century-long tradition of competitive, community-level baseball.
Howell has written an informative and insightful social history that examines the transformation of Maritime community life from the 1860s to the late twentieth century.
About the author
Darrell Varga is Canada Research Chair in Contemporary Film and Media Studies at NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), where he teaches courses in film history, documentary film, and Canadian cinema. He has published widely on Canadian cinema and is the co-editor of Working on Screen: Representations of the Working Class in Canadian Cinema.
'This book is a well-written history that does a good job of mixing fact with anecdote and the result is a highly readable block of information that will give you not only a new appreciation for the game but one for the people who played it.'
The Halifax Daily News
'Northern Sandlots is a refreshing alternative to the unenlightened observations of sports writers or the inarticulate ramblings of ex-athletes that constitute most mainstream baseball books.'
Canadian Book Review Annual
'Howell's own love for the minor league game is quite apparent and make this book a memorable one,'
The Era Banner
'In Northern Sandlots, [C.D. Howell] centres on the rise of baseball not only in the world of local and North American sport, but also in the major social, economic and cultural events and influences on the Maritime region over the past 125 years... The story is of the rich heritage of the baseball itself: the contest, players, managers, owners, towns, fans and their teams. The research is impressive.'