Tygiel, Jules 1949–2008

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Tygiel, Jules 1949–2008

(Jules Everett Tygiel)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 9, 1949, in Brooklyn, NY; died of cancer, July 1, 2008, in San Francisco, CA. Historian, social scientist, educator, and author. Tygiel was a classically trained, mainstream historian who also happened to have a passionate interest in baseball. He followed a career path typical for academic historians, teaching for thirty years at San Francisco State University, offering classes in California history, labor history, and the Great Depression. He published books that reflected his knowledge of American history and earned the respect of critics. Tygiel considered himself fortunate to be able to merge his credentials as a historian with his enthusiasm for baseball, and the more deeply he delved into baseball history, the more he realized how perfectly the evolution of the sport mirrored the development and growth of American culture. That is what he wrote about, and it was a perspective that many colleagues and reviewers described as unique. Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy (1983) may have been an accurate and compelling story about the first black ballplayer to succeed in a historically white league, but it was also a study of the racial integration of America as an element of cultural and social change. In addition, the book revealed the importance of sports in general as an agent of change, rather than simply a mirror. Tygiel received a prize from the Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards sponsored by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial for that work. Past Time: Baseball as History (2000) examined that theme as well, and won the Seymour Medal of the Society for American Baseball Research. Tygiel's interest in baseball was not entirely academic. He played pickup games when he could, and he was a proud cofounder of the Pacific Ghost League, an early "fantasy baseball" club that he started in 1981. In addition to his studies of baseball, Tygiel's books include Workingmen in San Francisco, 1880-1901 (1992), The Great Los Angeles Swindle: Oil, Stocks, and Scandal during the Roaring Twenties (1994), and Ronald Reagan and the Triumph of American Conservatism (2004).



Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2008, p. B10.

New York Times, July 4, 2008, p. A17; July 8, 2008.

Washington Post, July 7, 2008, p. B4.