David Vaught, professor of history at Texas A&M University and an expert on baseball and its origins, has been selected as one of this year’s winners of the McFarland-Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Award for an essay he wrote in a 2008 book, "Baseball in America and America in Baseball," published in 2008 by Texas A&M University Press.
Vaught, along with two other authors, will receive their awards at the annual SABR convention Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C. The McFarland-SABR Award honors the authors of the best papers or articles on baseball history or biography completed during the preceding calendar year, including research that has greatly expanded the knowledge of baseball. The award includes a $200 prize.
“Unlike most historians, I believe that baseball in the late 19 th century was a rural game every bit as much as it was an urban game,” Vaught contends.
The judges selected Vaught’s essay, “Our Players Are Mostly Farmers: Baseball in Rural California, 1850-1890” as one of three award winners.
“The article I wrote closely examines the fierce rivalry between two teams, the Davisville Oletas and Dixon Etnas of California,” Vaught adds. “It concludes that the game not only provided players and spectators comfort in a time of difficult transition, it also helped facilitate the modern economic order with its rational rules and conventions.
“I’m very flattered that my article was selected because these are some of the top scholars in the field.”
This year’s two other winning researchers examined baseball played at Native American boarding schools in turn-of-the-century Minnesota, and former major leaguer George Sisler in an article titled “The Greatest College Pitcher: George Sisler at Michigan.”
Vaught is currently working on his own book about baseball titled "Country Hardball: Baseball in Rural America." A native of California, he describes himself as “a lifelong – and often suffering – San Francisco Giants fan.”
The Society for American Baseball Research was formed to foster the study of baseball, assist in maintaining the history of the game and promote research about and stimulate interest in baseball. It is headquartered in Cleveland , Ohio .