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.