New York has long been both America’s leading cultural center and its sports capital, with far more championship teams, intracity World Series, and major prizefights than any other city. Pro football’s “Greatest Game Ever Played” took place in New York, along with what was arguably history’s most significant boxing match, the 1938 title bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. As the nation’s most crowded city, basketball proved to be an ideal sport, and for many years it was the site of the country’s most prestigious college basketball tournament. New York boasts storied stadiums, arenas, and gymnasiums and is the home of one of the world’s two leading marathons as well as the Belmont Stakes, the third event in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
New York sportswriters also wield national influence and have done much to connect sports to larger social and cultural issues, and the vitality and distinctiveness of New York’s street games, its ethnic institutions, and its sports-centered restaurants and drinking establishments all contribute to the city’s uniqueness.
New York Sports collects the work of fourteen leading sport historians, providing new insight into the social and cultural history of America’s major metropolis and of the United States. These writers address the topics of changing conceptions of manhood and violence, leisure and social class, urban night life and entertainment, women and athletics, ethnicity and assimilation, and more.
“[E]ditor Stephen Norwood brings together an impressive array of sport scholars to illuminate various themes and topics – from popular sport to ethnicity, from popular places and people to sporting spaces on the turf and streets – in what has always been the sports capital of America. … The collection is extensive in its breadth and depth of New York sports.”
—Ari de Wilde and Melvin L. Adelman, Sport in American History, January 2019
“This magisterial study of New York City’s sporting life does justice to the metropolis that has long been the epicenter of American sport. These well-crafted chapters pay homage to the city’s unparalleled sporting past, making you think and making you laugh. Yet it digs deeper, exploring the city’s role in shaping contemporary sport and showing why sport has been central to the story that New Yorkers tell about themselves and their city.”
—Rob Ruck, author of The Tropic of Football
Sport, Culture, and Society is a series from the University of Arkansas Press that publishes monographs and collections for academics and general readers in the humanities and social sciences. Its focus is the role of sport in the development of community and the forging of individual, local, regional, and national identities.
Introduction. New York City: Capital of Sports – Stephen H. Norwood
I. Baseball: The Era of the Subway Series
1. The Yankees and Dodgers: The Glory Years, 1947–1957 – Steven A. Riess
2. The Team That Time Forgot: The New York Giants of the 1950s in History and Memory – Henry D. Fetter
II. Football: The Glamour and the Gore
3. The New York Giants and Cold War Manhood: Pro Football in the Age of the Marlboro Man and the ICBM – Stephen H. Norwood
4. Joe Namath: Player on and off the Field – Eunice G. Pollack
III. Basketball: The Ultimate Urban Sport
5. From Basket Ball to Hoop Heroics: The City Game, 1891 to the Present – Dennis Gildea
IV. Racing: On the Track and in the Streets
6. The New York City Marathon: Celebration of a City and the Back of the Pack – Maureen M. Smith
7. “This Isn’t the Sixth Race. This Is the Belmont”: The Belmont Stakes and the Rise and Fall of the “Sidewalks of New York” – Bennett Liebman and Henry D. Fetter
V. Sporting Spaces: Play in the Crowded City
8. New York City’s First Ballparks: From the Origins of Paid Admissions to the Emergence of Yankee Stadium – Robert C. Trumpbour
9. Municipal Golf in New York City since the 1960s: Courses for All Social Classes – George B. Kirsch
VI. Sport in the Multiethnic City: Jews and Italians
10. During the Heyday of Jewish Sports in Gotham: The Case of CCNY, 1900–1970 – Jeffrey S. Gurock
11. Italians and Sport in New York City: The Road to Americanization – Gerald R. Gems
12. Jewish Institutions and Women’s Sport: New York City in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries – Linda J. Borish
VII. Hangouts: Sporting Culture by Day and Night
13. Boxing in Olde New York: Unforgettable Stillman’s Gym – Mike Silver
14. Toots Shor: Midcentury Icon and Monument to Sport and Booze – Daniel A. Nathan