Alice D. Mortenson/Petrovich Distinguished Chair in Russian History
Associate Chair, History Department
Not many history professors get to have a primary source on hand to answer questions when they conduct a class. Certainly David McDonald — who specializes in pre-Revolutionary Russia — can’t bring in a czar or Lenin or Trotsky to have them explain the finer points of the mutiny of the Potemkin. But for his recently created seminar, Baseball and Society since World War II, McDonald’s coteacher is one of the major actors in the subject discussed: Bud Selig ’56, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball.
McDonald and Selig have taught Baseball and Society each semester since spring 2015, giving senior history majors insight into the way that the game has reflected changes in U.S. culture. McDonald, a Yankees fan while he was growing up in British Columbia, revels in being able to give students access to a walking compendium of the sport’s history.
“Bud is incredibly gracious with his time,” McDonald says. “He stays after class answering questions, often as long as the students want.” But the course is no softball: it requires 200 to 250 pages of reading every week.
My Assigned Reading Includes:
Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy
by Jules Tygiel
by Jim Bouton
The End of Baseball as We Knew It
by Charles Korr
As well as more than 30 articles by writers including Gay Talese, John Updike, and Murray Ross
At the Moment, I’m Reading:
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle
Periodicals and Publications I Enjoy Include:
The New Yorker
The One Thing That Everyone Needs to Read Is:
The Bible. “I’m not a religious person, but my mother always said you can’t understand literary references unless you’ve read the Bible.”
Some Favorite Pieces I’ve Worked on Have Been:
“I’ve been writing an article for a conference in Japan on the question, How did populations around the world respond to the Russian Revolution? This has had me researching a community called the Dukhovors, who lived in my area of British Columbia where I grew up — southern British Columbia, just north of Spokane. I’m reading about places I know and names I’m familiar with from my days in school.”
I Keep Meaning to Get Around to Reading:
It’s probably on everyone’s list, but James Joyce’s Ulysses.