A biologist’s book about baseball has been placed on the 2018 Kansas Notable Books list.
Fort Hays State University’s biological sciences lab coordinator Mark Eberle’s “Kansas Baseball, 1858-1941” was placed on the list by state librarian Eric Norris.
The list contains a selection of 15 books reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Kansas and features quality titles with wide public appeal that are either written by Kansans or highlights a Kansas-related topic.
“Kansas Baseball,” published in April 2017, describes the nature of early baseball. Eberle became interested in the topic in grade school, playing in his hometown neighborhood of Olathe and following the Athletics when their home was Kansas City instead of California.
Biologist Eberle said the baseball book was kind of accidental. “I was just curious about which ballparks in Kansas were the oldest, and it grew from there.”
“I was just doing the baseball research for the pleasure I derived from it, with no intention of writing a book, so it is humbling to have that work recognized,” said Eberle.
Larks Park in Hays, one of the oldest ballparks in Kansas, got him started.
“Larks Park, completed in 1940 and officially dedicated in 1941, was No. 10 on the list of oldest ballparks when I started looking three years ago, and became No. 9 after Independence demolished their 1919 grandstand,” he said. “Larks Park will soon become No. 8 after Wichita tears down Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which was built in 1934.”
Town team baseball was widespread in 1858-1941, which is why Eberle chose the time frame.
“Virtually every town had a team at some point that played against other town teams,” he said. “These teams were a mix of amateur, semipro and professional clubs, but unfortunately this was also the period when most teams were segregated by race or gender.”
Some chapters describe baseball played by teams of women, African Americans, Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, while other chapters describe minor league teams and major league tours through Kansas.
The book, ending with a discussion on the disappearance of town teams after World War II, describes early baseball and histories of the nine ballparks built prior to the war that are still used in Kansas: Rossville, Kinsley, Wichita, Garden City, Chanute, Larned, Junction City, El Dorado and Hays.
Eberle has co-written two other books, also published by the University Press of Kansas, which represents all six Kansas Board of Regents institutions. The other books are based on his professional life as a biologist.
Eberle and Joe Tomelleri, FHSU alumnus, wrote “Fishes of the Central United States” in 1990 featuring hundreds of Tomelleri’s color illustrations of fish. An expanded second edition was published in 2011.
“Kansas Fishes,” published in 2014, was a collaborative effort organized by biologists from each of the state universities and state agencies that work with fish.
“Among the 60 experts who contributed to the book, nine have connections to Fort Hays State University, including myself,” said Eberle.
Dr. William Stark, FHSU professor of biological sciences, Dr. Nicholas Mandrak, former professor of biological sciences, and FHSU alumni Dr. Donald Cloutman, Guy Ernsting, Jordan Hofmeier, Eric Johnson, Jason Lugnibill and Joe Tomelleri were contributors to “Kansas Fishes.”
His books are available through most book retailers, the Sternberg Museum gift shop, the Fort Hays State Historic Site gift shop or the University Press of Kansas at https://kansaspress.ku.edu/.
Eberle is currently focusing on shorter publications which will be published in science journals and on Forsyth Library’s Scholar’s Repository at https://works.bepress.com/mark-eberle/.
For more information, visit www.fhsu.edu/biology/Faculty/Eberle/index.