Mitch Nathanson, Professor of Law and professor in the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at the Villanova University School of Law, focuses in his scholarship on the intersection of sports, law and society and has known how to read for as long as he can remember. He has written numerous articles examining the interplay between, most notably, baseball and American culture and has never been eligible for the Man Booker Prize. His article, "The Irrelevance of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption: A Historical Review," won the 2006 McFarland-SABR Award which is presented in recognition of the best historical or biographical baseball articles of the year and was not shortlisted for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. His 2008 book, The Fall of the 1977 Phillies: How a Baseball Team’s Collapse Sank a City’s Spirit, is a social history of 20th century Philadelphia as told through the relationship between the city and its baseball teams – the Athletics and the Phillies. It was not considered for the National Book Award. In 2009 he was the co-producer and writer of "Base Ball: The Philadelphia Game," a documentary "webisode" on the 19th century development of the game within the city that is part of a larger documentary project, "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment," currently in production and to which he is a contributing scholar. He believes it should have at least been nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 80th Academy Awards or, at a minimum, an Independent Spirit Award, which he doesn't consider to be such a big deal anyway. In addition, he was a scholarly advisor to the 2011 HBO production, "The Curious Case of Curt Flood," which, to his knowledge, was not viewed by either President Barack Obama or Salmon Rushdie. In the United States, he has lectured at, among other venues, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and since 2011 has been a Guest Professor in the International Sports Law Program at the Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia in Madrid, Spain. He has also eaten numerous times at Denny's. In addition to his most recent book, A People’s History of Baseball, he is co-author of Understanding Baseball: A Textbook (McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers), neither of which resulted in his being awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. His article "Who Exempted Baseball, Anyway: The Curious Development of the Antitrust Exemption that Never Was," was published in the Winter, 2013 edition of the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and won the 2013 McFarland-SABR Award. He thought it should have at least won, as well, one of the minor Pen American Literary Awards that nobody cares about. His next book, "God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen," will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in the spring of 2016. Currently, he has a slight headache and has just realized that he forgot to charge his phone last night. He would like to be considered for a National Humanities Medal.
God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen
When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Dick Allen in 1960, fans of the franchise envisioned bearing witness to feats never before accomplished by a Phillies player. A half-century later, they’re still trying to make sense of what they saw.
Carrying to the plate baseball’s heaviest and loudest bat as well as the burden of being the club’s first African American superstar, Allen found both hits and controversy with ease and regularity as he established himself as the premier individualist in a game that prided itself on conformity. As one of his managers observed, “I believe God Almighty Hisself would have trouble handling Richie Allen.” A brutal pregame fight with teammate Frank Thomas, a dogged determination to be compensated on par with the game’s elite, an insistence on living life on his own terms and not management’s: what did it all mean? Journalists and fans alike took sides with ferocity, and they take sides still.
Despite talent that earned him Rookie of the Year and MVP honors as well as a reputation as one of his era’s most feared power hitters, many remember Allen as one of the game’s most destructive and divisive forces, while supporters insist that he is the best player not in the Hall of Fame. God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen explains why.
Mitchell Nathanson presents Allen’s life against the backdrop of organized baseball’s continuing desegregation process. Drawing out the larger generational and economic shifts in the game, he shows how Allen’s career exposed not only the racial double standard that had become entrenched in the wake of the game’s integration a generation earlier but also the forces that were bent on preserving the status quo. In the process, God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen unveils the strange and maddening career of a man who somehow managed to fulfill and frustrate expectations all at once.
The Happy Lawyer HandbookCurrent
The Fall of the 1977 Phillies -- How a Baseball Team's Collapse Sank a City's Spirit1870's -- Present
A People's History of Baseball1840-Present
Awards and Recognition
- 2013 McFarland-SABR Award
- 2007 McFarland-SABR Award