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New Book Hits Homerun, Addresses Impact of Television on Baseball

The new book, Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television , co-authored by Duquesne University Associate Professor Rob Bellamy steals a look at the impact of television on baseball and smashes some of the lingering myths about the “good old days” of the game. “This is the first book that concentrates on the relationship of our historical national pastime and the most important medium ever developed,” said Bellamy, who teaches in the Department of Journalism and Multimedia Arts.

In its description of Center Field Shot , which will be available on June 1, publisher Bison Books writes “The new medium of television exposed baseball to a genuinely national audience; altered the financial picture for teams, owners, and players; and changed the way Americans followed the game. Center Field Shot explores these changes--all even more prominent in the first few years of the 21st century--and makes sense of their meaning for America's pastime.”

One of baseball's charms and also one of its negatives, said Bellamy, is the myth of nostalgia, the belief that everything was better in the good old days. “For too long, television has been perceived by many as somehow ‘bad for the game,'” says Bellamy. “One thing I wanted to do was to address this myth and present the first full historical account of how television has shaped both our understanding of baseball and the economic structure of the baseball business.”

The inspiration for Center Field Shot was born from a paper Bellamy penned more than 20 years ago, titled The Impact of Television on the Structure of Major League Baseball , which was eventually published in a revised form in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media . Bellamy said the idea further evolved into book chapters, more articles and the development of courses in sports and media. “I loved it as I feel that both media and sports are only now getting their due as a site for important academic research and I was honored to be at or near the beginning of this movement in media studies and mass communication,” said Bellamy.

Bellamy co-authored the book with longtime friend, Dr. James R. Walker, professor of mass communication at Saint Xavier University. In 1991, Bellamy was appointed to the editorial board for then-new journal NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture . “It was through the pages of NINE that Jim and I started the collaboration that led to Center Field Shot ,” he said.

Duquesne University

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