Spalding’s World Tour

Spalding's World Tour - Hard Cover
Spalding's World Tour - Paperback

Spalding’s World Tour
The Epic Adventure That Took Baseball Around the Globe—And Made It America’s Game

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In October of 1888, Albert Goodwill Spalding—baseball star, sporting-goods magnate, promotional genius, serial fabulist—departed Chicago on a trip that would take him and two star-studded professional baseball teams clear around the globe. Their mission: fix the game in the American consciousness as the purest expression of our national spirit, seed markets for Spalding’s nascent athletic empire, and spread the virtues of the American way. On their journey, these early cultural ambassadors played before kings and queens, visited the Coliseum and the Eifel Tower, and took pot shots with their baseballs at the Great Sphinx in Egypt. Upon their return, they were celebrated as genuine American heroes by the likes of Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. Spalding’s World Tour is their story. It was named as an Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, a Top 10 baseball book of the year by Sports Illustrated, and was a finalist for the Seymour, Casey, and Moore awards. Excepts from the many positive reviews follow.


“In this rollicking account of professional baseball’s formative years, Lamster recreates Spalding’s six-month barnstorming tour around the world. As Lamster sees it, Spalding, baseball and late-19th-century America were made for one another: all were “surging,” “audacious,” “on the make.” Joining Spalding were several of baseball’s founding fathers, including Cap Anson, the White Stockings’ combustible team captain, and Ned Hanlon, a future Hall of Famer and one of the most influential managers in the game’s history. (The traveling shows also featured a hot-air-balloon acrobat and an African-American mascot.) Lamster’s attention to on- and off-the-field details is as rigorous as Spalding’s itinerary. [He] incorporates a wonderful cast of supporting characters-Mark Twain toasts the returning players at a celebratory dinner at Delmonico’s-and looks at early strife between owners and players. The tour itself was not a financial success; more than anything, it was a promotional event. And as Lamster shows, Spalding and the game of baseball were the beneficiaries.”
—The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

“Lamster brings to life a remarkable episode in the history of commerce, celebrity, and sport…..Spalding’s madcap promotional six-month tour —a 30,000 mile journey around the globe in 1888-89— is the centerpiece of Mr. Lamster’s entertaining book….A modern fan who has grown tired of the grim drumbeat of steroids and scandal will find Spalding’s World Tour a welcome change of pace.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“In 1888 [Albert Spalding] led a group of professional baseball players on a tour around the world….This wild expedition is the subject of Mark Lamster’s wonderful ‘Spalding’s World Tour: The Epic Adventure That Took Baseball Around the Globe — and Made It America’s Game….The book is an account of a bizarre journey filled with event, often comic, all fascinating. Lamster presents the story in engaging, witty prose, accompanied by excellent photographs and larded with period press accounts in all their purple glory.”
—The Boston Globe

“Lamster draws on a host of journalistic accounts, published memoirs and diaries to convey the players’ impressions of foreign lands, the shipboard banter, their misadventures at ports of call, as well as the logistical roadblocks to planning and promoting a round-the-world tour in the days before the Pacific cable….Lamster’s book reintroduces a fascinating and long-overlooked chapter in baseball history to fans and historians and offers a glimpse at an early chapter in baseball’s long march to globalization.”
—The Washington Post

“A riveting story of baseball and the man, Albert Goodwill Spalding, who brought it into the 20th century and made a fortune in the process.”

“An entertaining chronicle of an 1888 effort to spread baseball across the globe… this narrative drawn from Major League Baseball’s formative years is as timely as this morning’s box scores. Lamster knows his baseball and proves it….but Spalding’s World Tour is as much travelogue as sports history and is all the better for it….This book abounds with precise, vivid set pieces that evoke a vanished world of luxury liners and eight-course banquets, a world unspoiled by the advent of mass tourism.”
—Business Week

“This engagingly written history of Spalding’s 1988 baseball world tour is both evocative and entertaining. I’m not generally drawn in by 19th century history, but this book had me hooked from start to finish.”
—Sports Illustrated (

“Whether describing Spalding’s proselytizers throwing balls at Egypt’s Great Sphinx or playing for the Prince of Wales, Lamster brings back a little-known tale of grandeur and showmanship from baseball’s distant past.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Mark Lamster’s “Spalding’s World Tour” does justice to Spalding’s complex character and provides a sense of what the world was like when American ballplayers staged a contest to see who could hit the Sphinx in the eye with a baseball and sang their favorite song: “ We are the Howling Wolves / And this is our night to howl / And we howl thus: Wooo!”
—Bill Littlefield, NPR

“A rollicking tale about innocents abroad.”
—The Charlotte Observer

“Mark Lamster’s entertaining book chronicles one of baseball’s earliest moguls, Albert G. Spalding,and his 1888-89 world trip to promote the sport….Lamster shines light on a recurring dilemma: sometimes American big ideas just do not translate, and the big country seems like a world of its own.”
—The Financial Times (London. UK)

“Spalding’s jaunt was an early example of the globalization of sports (the Olympics weren’t far behind)….thorough and detailed.”
—The New Yorker

“A wonderfully entertaining book.”
—Rob Neyer, ESPN

“A first-rate history.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune

“A delightful account of a 1888 globe-trotting odyssey by two teams of all-stars as they attempted to spread American baseball to the rest of the world (and sell some sports equipment with the imprint of Albert Spalding, impresario behind the tour). Imagine, they even played a game in the shadow of the pyramids.”
—The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“For baseball road trips few can compare with the one chronicled by Mark Lamster in Spalding’s World Tour.”
—The Toronto Star

“Lamster paints a picture of sporting goods icon Albert Goodwill Spalding at the end of the nineteenth century, suited up and on a mission to spread the American gospel of baseball (and expand his business opportunities in the process)….As Spalding books a convoy of camels to carry the touring group to the pyramids in Egypt and attempts to hire out the Coliseum in Rome, his grandiloquent business sense is rendered in all its color and force. Lamster’s descriptions are careful and precise…from a sumptuous gala at Delmonico’s in New York to Clicquot toasts in Australia with the mayor of Sydney….Influenced by P. T. Barnum and credited with fabricating the mythology of baseball that we still hold dear, Spalding’s impact on the sport is obvious, and this account of his world tour should please fans of baseball and marketing mavens alike.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“Mark Lamster’s Spalding’s World Tour describes the 19th-century international trip of player/sports magnate Albert G. Spalding, who sought to popularize baseball around the world. Spalding was a conniver and a tale-spinner — he led the commission that named Abner Doubleday the game’s inventor — but one can’t deny his profound impact.”

“The book is both a fun read (you’ll be amused at some of the pranks that the players pulled along the way — some things never change!) and an important one, talking about the brewing player-owner labor war that eventually resulted in the short-lived 1890 Players’ League, headed by John Montgomery Ward, who was sort of the Tony LaRussa of his day, a player, manager, executive and attorney…..Some stories, like this one, deserve to be remembered. The fact that it’s well-researched and written is a bonus.”

“Well-written and obviously diligently researched, and covers a fascinating period in the game’s history….It’s a fun read.”
—Baseball Crank

“174 percent more entertaining than we would have thought. Usually books about baseball history make our eyes glaze over. Not this one.”
—Will Leitch, Deadspin

“One of my favorite baseball books of this year….a fascinating travelogue full of vivid characters and rich prose, humor and treachery, a story about a pivotal moment in history when baseball earned its niche as America’s national pastime.”
—Jay Jaffe

“If baseball is our national religion, then A. G. Spalding and his band of banjo hitters were the first foreign missionaries.d This was the ultimate road trip— Honolulu, Melbourne, Cairo, Paris, London, Dublin, and beyond— as the virtues of the high heater and the well-paced bunt were brought to the infidels. Fascinating stuff. Cap Anson at the Pyramids! A lot of fun.”
—Leigh Montville

“I’d like to offer my strong recommendation of Mark Lamster’s splendid new book….I was very impressed by how deftly the author brings Spalding, Anson, Ward and the other main figures to life and on his insights into the broader issues raised by the tour. As the ballplayers circle the globe, we get the novel opportunity to see both the world through the tourists’ eyes *and* the ballplayers through the world’s eyes. While it may seem an odd analogy, the book reminded me more of Huckleberry Finn than anything else, in that you start off thinking that you are looking at the world from the travelers’ perspectives and end up realizing that you’ve gained at least as much insight into the travelers themselves. That in itself would make the book worth reading, but given that it occurred at so pivotal a moment in baseball history and in the redefinition of the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world, the book is also a very important one….[Lamster’s] book can be enjoyed on many levels. It can be read for the beautiful descriptions of the countries and sites that the tourists visit, or to gain perspective on the place of America and baseball on the world stage. But Lamster never forces the latter on his readers; they are free to make their own interpretations and will doubtless come away from this book with very different understandings of what the book was “about.” I feel confident, however, that they will all have learned something valuable from it.”
—Peter Morris, author, “A Game of Inches”

“Spalding’s World Tour is a must-read for anyone with more than a passing interest in baseball history. Dotted with U.S. presidents, foreign heads of state, literary figures, and other fascinating characters, the tale of Spalding and his men is a compelling one, and is well-placed in the hands of Lamster, whose extensive research…and obvious love for the subject bring it to life.”

“Fascinating….a good time.”

“Thoroughly enjoyable….This rollicking tale [is] a must read for fans of baseball’s early days. Lamster’s conversational, informed narrative offers a delightful read cover to cover.”

“Lamster attacks this grand project with a style that shows no fear….[and] does a beautiful job of painting the color, tongue, and nature of the game and time. This is a book the would not only appeal to the fan of baseball, but a fan of history. Reading about the players sailing across the Pacific to the cannibal island of Hawaii, Australia, Egypt, Paris, and more is entertainment enough…. Spalding’s World Tour is worth the money and time invested in the read. It’s a book that not only presents a time period but takes you there, all the while educating you on the greatest game on the planet”

“Mark Lamster throws gasoline on the baseball purists’ fire by positing his notion of how the game came to be…. The image of 20 baseball players in uniform, poised atop camels on the way to the Egyptian pyramids, is entertaining and evocative, especially when they compete to see who can hit the Sphinx in the eye with a baseball.”

“Lamster’s book is a fun trip, and its written in such a way that it feels as though the reader is going along for the ride….Lamster keeps up a brisk pace. He intersperses the day-by-day details with brief social commentary on the players actions and the way those actions relate to the briskly industrializing and colonizing world. For an event that was, at the time, a momentous occasion for the game of baseball and for Americans, Spaldings World Tour gets nary a mention in todays baseball literature. Lamsters book is a welcome addition to the annals of baseball history and the social evolution of Americas pastime.”
—Double Play Depth

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