The original coal camps that existed throughout the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to Alabama have faded into memory and kudzu-covered, rusty tracks and vacant holes. The people who worked the pits had to spend a good portion of their lives below ground, breathing coal dust and facing the dangerous task of eviscerating a mountain. It was not a job from which the miners derived much pleasure other than through the camaraderie of their fellow miners. There was a constant need for recreation of some type, so dances and games were much anticipated events that allowed the work of the mines to go forward.
One summer activity that excited the workers due to the promise of competition with nearby camps and the rousing activity it provided was baseball. Most of the camps had a baseball team that was the part of a league or would find single games against rival camps. The recreation was important, but the social aspects could have been the most anticipated.
This topic is important because it is an interesting part of American history that has been mostly forgotten. Though most of the camps have disappeared and the fields are overgrown with grass, baseball, which has always been hailed as the national past time, was an important part of the lives of this rural country life. It is incumbent upon the people who share ancestry of these hard working and playing people, that they not forget this entertaining and critical piece of their lives.
Genre or form
The genre is historical nonfiction. The book is going to be written in the conversational, novel-like style of David McCullough. Although it could also be included in the sports genre, it is more a history of the game as it was played at the coal camps along with how the people lived and worked. It will also include historical primary source material from different areas of the Appalachians.
List of Chapters (all word counts are approximate, based on approximately 150-200 words per page)
1. Introduction to the topic (5,000): The book will start with a short retelling of a famous game between a camp in West Virginia, that included a future member of the Cincinnati Reds, and a team from Maxine, Alabama just West of Birmingham. This will be a retelling of the game along with bios intermixed of the players on the teams and what they do for their respective companies. It will also pan to the camp and show the conditions of the workers, in short, and set the story on the right course.
2. The Coal Camps (5,000): This chapter talks specifically about the camps they were spread from the Southern Appalachians through West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It will give descriptions of some of the specific camps and pictures of people from them. It will have little to do with the baseball side of the book other than list some of the miners and the roles they played in organizing some of the first baseball teams.
3. Recreation in the Coal Camps (8,000): This is more of a comprehensive look at the camps themselves and the types of events that were planned for the miners and their families either by the coal company (which usually organized the baseball games, the managers of the camp, or the people themselves. This will take a longer look at some of the recreations besides baseball, and some that coincided with the baseball games played in the camps. One section will discuss the music of the camps and the fact that many of the people that worked their played some sort of instrument. Many professional boxers also came from the camps.
4. Baseball as a Form of Recreation and Reputation (8,000): This chapter is specifically about the baseball played in the camps. The winners were lauded up and down the mountains between the camps. In one small one hundred square mile area there may be as any as 20 or 25 teams that played local games, but the best teams traveled throughout the coal region of the Appalachians. This will be a discussion of the style of baseball played, but also about the pride the miners took in their teams. It will also discuss the fact that people were rarely able to…