Press Releases for Howard W. Rosenberg Books
Tile Books Announces Release of 3rd Installment
in Howard Rosenberg's "Cap Anson" Series
April 4, 2005

Debut of Definitive Book on Tricky and Dirty Play in the First Decades of Major League Baseball: Cap Anson 3: Muggsy John McGraw and the Tricksters: Baseball's Fun Age of Rule Bending

''It’s curious, isn’t it, that there’s always more bamboozling and hoodwinkery in baseball than in our other popular games. Oh, there’s always players in every sport ready to look for an edge to cheat, but invariably that’s spur of the moment stuff that someone pulls off instinctively in the heat of the action. But baseball surely leads in premeditated cheating. . .''—Frank Deford, National Public Radio, June 18, 2003 

Tile Books announces the U.S. and Canadian availability of the hardcover Cap Anson 3: Muggsy John McGraw and the Tricksters: Baseball's Fun Age of Rule Bending. It is the story of on-the-field rule bending through 1900, the first decades of major league baseball. Both early individuals and teams are featured in definitive ways, especially players most associated with Boston, Tommy Tucker (for his dirty play) and Mike Kelly (for his trickery). The featured teams are Chicago, from 1879 through 1900, whose players included Cap Anson and Kelly; and Baltimore from 1891 to 1899.  

Anson’s full-blown biography is still to come. Cap Anson 2 was Kelly’s and is supplemented in Cap Anson 3 to fully account for Kelly’s trickery and occasional dirty play. On and off the field, Cap Anson 3 most closely examines a tricky and dirty Baltimore player of the 1890s, John McGraw. As the author’s research was exhaustive, this presentation of McGraw trumps anything about him through 1900, on almost any issue it addresses.  

While McGraw has been previously studied, this book provides the first notable recognition of Tucker, who was a leading dirty player. He was with Baltimore in the 1880s and some pennant-winning Boston teams in the 1890s. 

Both Chicago, led by Anson, its captain-manager for 19 years, and Baltimore, led in the 1890s by manager Ned Hanlon, are entertaining to track. Chicago’s players who did tricky and dirty deeds hardly had the notoriety of Baltimore ones who did so, as Baltimore’s players were more high-strung.  

Perhaps no argument on the field was like a “group kick” conducted by Baltimore players. Think of a latter twentieth-century Baltimore manager, Earl Weaver, times seven, and with usually a lone umpire to take it all in. 

In the 1880s, Chicago was arguably the best team in the National League and tricky and dirty play helped it win several pennants. Besides examining Chicago over that decade, Cap Anson 3 explores the team in the 1890s, when its record was mediocre. In the 1890s, Chicago provides a basis of comparison for Baltimore, winner of pennants from 1894 to 1896; and for McGraw in particular. Conveniently, the period through 1900 encompasses 85 percent of his playing career.  

Also surveyed are McGraw’s colorful teammates, including his good chum, freckle-faced shortstop Hughey Jennings; and center fielder Steve Brodie, whose mutterings were hardly captured but which can be thought of in the background. There was also catcher Wilbert “Robbie” Robinson, who umpire Tim Hurst said tried various ways to humor him, to help his team’s chances.  

Howard W. Rosenberg, a native of Roslyn, N.Y., is writing a series of topical and biographical books on nineteenth-century baseball, with Cap Anson the organizing feature. He is a 1987 graduate of Cornell University, and has worked in Washington, D.C., as a wire service reporter for Jewish newspapers and as editor of policy reports at a Native American think tank. He lives in Arlington, Va. 

Book Specifications:

Hardcover ISBN 0-9725574-2-3 $30.00
X (10 introductory pages), 472 regularly numbered pages
7 x 10 inches
Publication Date: April 2005
110 drawings, index, full endnotes, two appendices 
Section and Chapter Titles:

  • Introduction     
  • Intimidating the Batter    
  • Spiking      
  • Playing Dirty at the Bases   
  • Tucker at First, McGraw at Third  
  • Orioles Besides McGraw   
  • Tricky Play by the 1890s Orioles  
  • A Little Fun Chapter    
  • The Wild Twentieth Century   
  • More Legacy Rhetoric    
  • Chicago With Anson
  • The Final Call     
  • Appendix A: Manipulating the Ball  
  • Appendix B: Duckpins     

Author's Contact Information:

Howard W. Rosenberg
1111 Arlington Boulevard
Number 235 West
Arlington, Virginia 22209
(703) 841-9523 (telephone) (e-mail)

Cover Art: