Keurajian: ‘New Century, New Team’ looks back at Boston baseball beginnings

From SABR member Ron Keurajian at Sports Collectors Digest on December 30, 2014:

One of the most important organizations engaged in the preservation of baseball history is the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Not only am I a fan of SABR, I am also a member.

Over the years, SABR has published countless books and periodicals on the National Pastime, from the game’s inception in the 19th century to modern-day baseball and all points in between. SABR’s membership is seemingly endless. SABR has an arsenal of historians and baseball fans who produce some of the finest writings on the history of the game.

I recently received a copy of New Century, New Team, the 1901 Boston Americans (SABR, 2013). The book, edited by long-time writer Bill Nowlin, is an in-depth and well researched book on the birth of the Americans. They later became the Boston Red Sox.

The first chapters tell the story of the team’s birth. Before 1901, the dominant league, the only league, was the National League. In 1901, the American League, brain-child of sports writer-turned-baseball executive Byron “Ban” Johnson, was formed. It was more of a fanciful dream than anything else. The key player in making the American League reality was Ohio coal magnate Charles Somers. After reading New Century, you understand how important Somers was to the birth of the American League.

Somers made countless millions in mining. His financial backing was critical in founding the upstart league. As contributing writer Fred Schuld wrote: “Somers was much more than one of the league’s founding members; he was also its principal financier.”

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Originally published: December 30, 2014. Last Updated: December 30, 2014.