Finding America in a Minor League Ballpark
A Season Hosting for the Durham Bulls
- 208 Pages
- February 6, 2024
- ISBN: 9781510778603
- Imprint: Skyhorse Publishing
- Trim Size: 8.5in x 10in x 0in
Over forty million people attend minor league baseball games each season. Who are they? Why do they come? Let’s find out!
Noted social scientist Harris Cooper took a job as a Seating Bowl Host for the most famous minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls. As a host, he helped fans find seats and other stadium amenities, made sure everyone was safe, took pictures, and chased kids from the aisles. He got to talk with a wide-ranging assortment of people, from regular attendees to those at their very first baseball game, from retired judges to middle school students.
Minor league baseball games draw a broader array of Americans than any sport. The fleeting moments spent talking baseball with the fan sitting next to you or with a ballpark employee disguise the remarkable variety of people who call themselves “baseball fans.” Dr. Cooper brings these people to life.
In addition, the book presents a brief history of minor league baseball, the Bulls, and the city of Durham, so typical of small American cities. It profiles the ballplayers, focusing not on their on-field statistics but on who they are and where they come from. The book also profiles twelve baseball movies, all of which focus on baseball not played in the major leagues.
Throughout the book, Dr. Cooper draws on his knowledge of social science to extract from his experiences a description of the inhabitants and goings-on at a ballpark. It illuminates not just baseball writ large, but also provides a compelling portrait of Americans as a people and their shared love of our national pastime.
—Ira Berkow, Pulitzer prize–winning journalist, and author of How Life Imitates Sports and Baseball's Best Ever
“After spending a year as an usher for the Durham Bulls, Harris Cooper gathered insights now presented in Finding America. Easy to read because of a format rich in charts, photographs, and sidebars, Cooper says fans of all ages, sizes, sexes, colors, and political persuasions came to the park for a good time. The best part of this diary-like journey is the section on minor-league history, including the history and map of the minors; why Branch Rickey owned thirty-two teams; how a game lasted thirty-two innings; and when a seventeen-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game. Readers will also be amazed that there are twenty things a pitcher can do to be charged with a balk. They're listed in this gem of a book. It's a real keepsake.”
—Dan Schlossberg, author of Home Run King: The Remarkable Record of Hank Aaron
“Just when you begin to fear you’ve lost all touch with Major League Baseball, along comes a book like Harris Cooper’s Finding America in a Minor League Ballpark to reassure you there indeed is still joy to be found in your lifelong love affair with our national pastime. Harris makes sure he lives up to the personal credo he adopts: Treat the park as your home and each new arrival as your guest in it. His reward is a pleasure-filled summer.”
—David Nemec, award-winning baseball historian, author of more than twenty books on baseball, including The Absolutely Most Challenging Baseball Quiz Book, Ever
“A great ride through the Durham history of monikers, origin stories, and fun quirky facts and the evolution of the Bulls, the Minors, and the game itself. I thoroughly enjoyed taking a trip down baseball movie memory lane and reading about the everyday fun (and annoyances) of being at the ballpark, with great commentary and insights of the psychologies behind fans’ behaviors. And the quotes from the likes of Casey Stengel and Bob Uecker—vintage!”
—Tom Dondero, president of Baseball America