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Winder native pens book on early baseball journalism

POSTED: August 5, 2014 9:14 a.m.
Special photo for the Barrow County News/

Cover from Roessner's recently-released book.

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Winder-raised Lori Amber Roessner released her first book, "Inventing Baseball Heroes," last month, and so far sales have exceeded LSU Press’ expectations.

Roessner, who is currently an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, held two book readings and signings this month at Barnes & Noble and Avid Bookshop in Athens, and she said she will likely hold a couple more promotional events in the fall.

"Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and the Sporting Press in America" addresses the concept of "herocrafting" in sports journalism, focusing on the two athletes mentioned in the title—Detroit Tigers outfielder and New York Giants pitcher respectively—as well as, later on in the book, Boston Red Sox pitcher and later New York Yankees outfielder Babe Ruth.

Roessner said she chose Cobb and Mathewson because they were the two most prominently covered athletes in journalism in the early 20th century until Ruth became a star in the 1920s.

In her work, Roessner delves into how sports journalists of the time crafted athletes into heroes whether or not the title was deserved, and how journalistic standards were often compromised in the sportswriters’ efforts to do so.

"While both Cobb and Mathewson were fabulous standouts on the baseball diamond, I think we could probably classify them as ‘pseudo-heroes’ because, after all, they were just baseball players," Roessner said in an interview last week with Barbara Dooley for Georgia’s Morning News.

Roessner, who graduated from Oconee County High School and went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, began her research for the book around 2007, she said, when she was in a master’s course at UGA.

The topic of the class was heroes in the media, and Roessner said that’s when she began focusing on the research questions and isolating her primary and secondary sources for what would eventually become her dissertation and the book.

That graduate course wasn’t where Roessner’s interest in sports began, however. Roessner said both her mother, Gina McDonald, and father, Earl Shaw, loved sports. Shaw was a basketball and baseball coach, and Roessner said some of her earliest memories are of McDonald playing softball.

"I oftentimes like to say that I grew up at a softball field—and in particular at the rec field in Winder," said Roessner, who, coached by her parents, played several sports as a child, including tee-ball, softball and basketball. "My parents were very key forces in my development as an athlete."

Roessner said she was always very interested in sports and books, both of which passions her parents encouraged. Her interest in journalism, however, began during her undergraduate studies at UGA, during which time she became a sports reporter for the university’s independent student newspaper, The Red and Black.

Following her experience with that publication, Roessner was a sports journalist for The Gainesville Times, an editor for Gainesville Life and an associate editor for Athens Magazine. It was during her time with the latter publication that she acquired her master’s degree and decided to pursue her doctorate as well.

Roessner has a second book slated to be released by LSU Press in the fall of 2017. This second work will hone in on the 1976 presidential campaign of then Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

Roessner’s first book is available for purchase now at lsupress.org and amazon.com and is also for sale at Avid Bookshop in Athens.

 

 

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