Summary: The history as presented in the title.
My Thoughts: As good as advertised.
There were several points in this book of which I had never thought. I had never seen tobacco cards described as pocket-sized billboards, but as far as the tobacco companies were concerned, they met the same goal. I had never considered the idea that the tobacco companies used the images of ballplayers without their consent, or paying them. From the very early pages and the early history of the intertwining of baseball and advertising through to the modern day, I learned something new.
That said, it was interesting to predict what was coming next: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, radio, television, etc. The author throws a few well-placed curveballs, like focusing on the issues of race during the height of the Negro Leagues and into the post-Jackie Robinson years. Even language plays a role in this production. How have Latino players been perceived through time? Have they been properly included and effectively used to reach the masses?
This is just a personal taste thing, but I found the lengthy page count spent on Derek Jeter to be somewhat too long. I just don't get it. Maybe if I watched Jeter every day as a Yankees fan, I could see what New Yorkers see, but he just never came across to me as the star he's made out to be. About half way through the chapter I'd had enough. The author made her point - he was the everyman, not black, not white, marketable to everybody - but I checked out.
The book is replete with tales of how we got to this point, of how baseball players transcended their sport to become cultural icons known for catchphrases, for never-to-be-forgotten TV spots and linkages to everything from Nuxated Iron to Viagra.