JB Manheim (PhD: Northwestern, 1971) is Professor Emeritus at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. A specialist in strategic political communication and information/influence campaigns, he developed the world's first degree-granting program in political communication, and was later the founding director of the GWU School of Media & Public Affairs. He is a former chair of the political communication section of the American Political Science Association, and was the 1995 DC Professor of the Year.
In recent years he has begun writing a series of contemporary novels grounded in the history of baseball circa the early twentieth century. The first of these, This Never Happened: The Mystery Behind the Death of Christy Mathewson, published by Summer Game Books in 2021, serves as Book 1 of The Cooperstown Trilogy. The novel is based on two authentic WWI military documents discovered by the author that challenge a core historical myth of the game. Books 2 and 3 of the Trilogy -- The GameKeepers: Whitewash, Blackmail, and Baseball's Dirtiest Secrets, and Doubleday Doubletake -- which explore other baseball myths and scandals, were published in 2022.
Manheim is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, and the Historical Novel Society.
This Never Happened: The Mystery Behind the Death of Christy Mathewson
This Never Happened is based on two little known, but apparently authentic, military documents from World War I that call into question the established history surrounding Christy Mathewson's exposure to poison gas in a training accident in France and his subsequent death. The documents, illustrated in the book, are records of a company of several future Hall of Famers -- Cobb, Wagner, Chance and others -- who were training on the handling of chemical weapons in Georgia in the summer of 1918. The Problem: This is at variance with the delivered history of Mathewson's experience, and presents a set of facts that have been entirely omitted from any known histories or biographies, not only of Mathewson, but of any of the players involved. And that is only the beginning of the mystery.
What if in actuality, the novel asks, Mathewson's assignment to France was a mere ruse, a feint designed to draw attention away from events that, if revealed, could prove detrimental to the national war effort, and embarrassing to the Army and to Baseball? What if Baseball has continued to cover up these events to this day? At the very least, the two documents in question are highly suggestive of this or some similar version of reality.
This Never Happened offers one possible scenario that accounts for a seeming inconsistency in the historical record, an account that is admittedly fictional. But the inconsistency itself -- and the gap in the record -- is real, and the question the book ultimately raises is: If this never happened, what did? Baseball historians, among others, will find that this work of "fiction" poses an interesting and real question.
The GameKeepers: Whitewash, Blackmail, and baseball's Dirtiest Secrets2022
Doubleday Doubletake: One Ball, Three Strikes, One Man Out2022
Awards and Recognition
- Finalist, Sports Fiction, 2022 Readers Favorite Competition (Doubleday Doubletake)
- Finalist, Sports, 2021 American Book Fest Competition (This Never Happened) Nominated, 2022 Ritter Award, Society for American Baseball Research (This Never Happened)