Essay: Baseball in 1860-1900 a Reflection of North American History

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Baseball in 1860 -- 1900: a reflection of North American history

Great changes had been taking place in Northern America in the second half of the nineteenth century. People felt that every domain needed to be reconsidered and old conceptions had to be let go of in order to integrate it into the modern society. Even though the mass media from the time had been rather primitive compared to what it is today, people could recognize baseball as their national sport as a result of newspapers constantly relating to it. The importance baseball had for U.S. citizens is proved by its connection to high profile individuals in the country. People went as far as relating the sport to public officials such as John Bell, Stephen a. Douglas, John Brekinridge, and Abraham Lincoln.

It became obvious that baseball was not some temporary passion. In spite of the trends, it is a mystery to this day why people have developed their passion for baseball. It is not certain whether it was because of the place baseball had in the cycle of seasons, or whether it was because of the fact that it made people relate to traditionalism in an age when industrialism reigned. Such assumptions are not necessarily backed by verified arguments, as most of them have appeared consequently to baseball becoming a famous sport.

The American Civil War is one of the major factors to have influenced Americans in considering baseball a national sport. Approximately until the start of the second half of the nineteenth century, people in the U.S. had been accustomed to playing a series of games involving a ball and a bat. However, besides cricket, almost none of the games had been properly structured and people did not appear to wish for any of the games to turn into a legitimate sport.

While the rest of the country did not express an interest in having a national sport, New Yorkers proved to be more determined, leading to the establishment of several baseball clubs all around the country. There have also been people who were against baseball, arguing that the sport did not deserve to be called a national game, since it had only been played in a small number of states.

Even if cricket had been a well organized game, and, that it had a history linking Americans to the European continent, it did not manage to capture their attention. Most Americans struggled to express their nationalist principles at the time of the Civil War. This meant that they did not want to keep British traditions in their society.

Baseball had not just been a game similar to cricket or to other ball and bat games, as it appeared to be representative for the American temperament. American needed a new way of living as a result of their break from the British Empire and this implied that they would also have to abandon British concepts. Baseball was not just another game, as it virtually stood for all the advancements made in the nineteenth century.

Most people might consider baseball to be nothing more than a simple sport, and that it got its present fame through a totally unplanned set of events. It is very possible that nobody planned baseball to become what it is today, but it is certain that the game stands as a hallmark for the American people. The individualism expressed by U.S. citizens is considered to be put across through the game of baseball. The sport is also believed to promote values such as equality and impartiality, two of the most important factors standing at the fundament of the Northern American society.

Baseball officially became a professional sport at the time when people started to invest money in it. A number of opportunists did not hesitate to risk loosing their money by investing in the game, as they anticipated its commercial potential.

It is generally known that post-Civil War America had different laws regarding racism and discrimination against blacks. Regardless of the fact that enslaved blacks were set free at the time, white people were still reluctant to accept that they could have equal rights. As baseball advanced and became a sport played by the whole nation, people came across the problem of whether or not it black people were supposed to join professional baseball teams. Even in the cases when they proved to have outstanding baseball playing abilities, black people were not supported by the positive feedback that they received from various officials in the baseball world.

Previous to the Civil War, black people in the northern states frequently played baseball, either playing for a number of famous teams, or simply playing in less experienced leagues. Everyone believed that the South losing the war meant that black people would receive more respect from their white counterparts. However, while the black people in the South benefited from being free, the ones in the North experienced a wave of racism brought along by the people coming from the states formerly part of the Confederacy.

It appears that racism had also made its way into the National Association of Baseball Players, with its leaders judging that black baseball players should not be accepted into the major league.

However, because of the impartial character which the game promoted, it gradually became clear that team owners had to choose their players depending on their abilities and not depending on their skin color.

Even though baseball is just a game, the fact that it had been appreciated by the whole nation worked in favor of the public slowly, but surely, abandoning racially prejudiced convictions. Concomitantly with their increasing passion for baseball, people had also learnt that discrimination is not justified. Certain black baseball players formed their own teams and proved that their aptitudes could earn them large amounts of money.

Even after the game became widespread, people did not know for sure what baseball had been all about. Certain players took opportunity of this issue and came up with methods which guaranteed their success. Considering the fact that the game had little strict rules, players could not be penalized for their actions. In order to introduce some fairness to baseball, officials began to experiment with various rules intended to prevent players from deceiving their opponents.

In addition to introducing new rules that would make the sport just, baseball promoters also introduced rules that would improve the commercial potential of the game. However, due to diverse misunderstandings that arose over the years, there had been cases when baseball officials kept swinging back and forth between decisions, unsure if the rules which they were coming up with were effective indeed.

The two main leagues of baseball to take control over the sport had been the National League of Baseball and the American Association of Baseball. While the National League had been the first to be established, the American Association was quick to catch up on the ground that it had lost by coming up with new concepts and theories which worked in favor of improving the general game play. There had been a lot of tension between the two leagues, as each wanted the other out of the baseball scene. In order to achieve compromise, they attempted to let baseball decide which of them had been better. However, because the two did not agree on certain rules, it had been extremely difficult to decide when a particular team would win against another.

Canadians are known for favoring games which involve ice, since the climate is more favorable to this kind of sports. Canadians had been accustomed to playing games such as lacrosse and cricket during summer. Taking into account the cold and the well-structured games played by the Canadians in the nineteenth century, it is clear that there were little chances for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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