WBC continues baseball's 'internationalization'

Next month, PublicAffairs Books will publish Mark Lamster's Spalding's World Tour: The Epic Adventure That Took Baseball Around the Globe -- and Made It America's Game. Last week, Lamster answered my e-mailed questions about Albert Goodwill Spalding's 1888-1889 tour around the world, with his Chicago White Stockings and a team of National League stars, and the beginning of baseball's "internationalization" that continues today, in the form of the World Baseball Classic.

Rob Neyer: Congratulations on writing such a wonderfully entertaining book. I've been researching another famous barnstorming tour but, even though "mine" happened in the middle of the 20th century, I've not been able to find anything like the rich details that so vividly color your tale. When you began researching Spalding's World Tour, did you have any idea how much material would be available?

Mark Lamster: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. To answer your question, when I began work on the book, I had an idea that there were sources waiting to be tapped, because Albert Spalding, the tour's progenitor, was something of a packrat and his scrapbooks still exist. (They're at the New York Public Library.) In addition, he brought three syndicated columnists with him on the trip, so I knew that their work was out there in the record, as would be the local reports from the places the tour traveled, because its arrival was newsworthy (or at least heavily promoted beforehand). That said, as I was researching the book I came upon some wonderful material, in particular diaries and personal correspondence from the players, that really opened up the story. I had no idea that material existed when I began. I suppose every author fantasizes about this kind of goldmine. I'm glad it was there for me.