Ed Delahanty in the Emerald Age of Baseball

  • by Jerrold Casway

  • 400 pages, 6.14 x 9.21 , 27 halftones

  • Paperback | 9780268022914 | February 2006

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268159160 | April 2021


Jerrold Casway’s fascinating biography of legendary baseball player Ed Delahanty (1867–1903) offers a compelling examination of the first “King of Swatsville’s” life and career, including the enigma surrounding his tragic and untimely death. Through Delahanty’s story, Casway traces the evolving character of major league baseball and its effect on the lives and ambitions of its athletes.

Delahanty’s career spanned the last decades of the nineteenth century during a time when the sons of post-famine Irish refugees dominated the sport and changed the playing style of America’s national pastime. In this “Emerald Age” of baseball, Irish-American players comprised 30–50 percent of all players, managers, and team captains. Baseball for Delahanty and other young Irishmen was a ticket out of poverty and into a life of fame and fortune. The allure and promise of celebrity and wealth, however, were disastrous for Delahanty. He found himself enmeshed in desperate contract dealings and a gambling addiction that drove him to alcohol abuse. The owner of the fourth highest lifetime batting average, Delahanty mysteriously disappeared and was found at the bottom of Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls.

This rich biography, which relies on previously unavailable family papers and court transcripts, as well as the colorful sports reporting of the period, will appeal to anyone interested in baseball, sports, or Irish history.