Baseball as a Vehicle for Te Emergence of the American Nation
Essay title: Baseball as a Vehicle for Te Emergence of the American Nation
Baseball has for a long time been a staple in the American sporting culture as baseball and America have grown up together. Exploring the different ages and stages of American society, reveals how baseball has served as both a public reflection of, and vehicle for, the evolution of American culture and society. Many American ways including our landscapes, traditional songs, and pastimes all bear the mark of a game that continues to be identified with America’s morals and aspirations. In this paper I will be addressing the long residuals of baseball as it specifically relates to the emergence of the American nation and its principles of nationalism. This is a particularly important issue because baseball seems to be a perfect representative system having many comparative analogies to the larger system of development, America. Since the sport first emerged, baseball and America have shared the same values, responded to the same events, and struggled with the same social and economic issues. To learn of the ideals concerning the sport of baseball in America, is to know the heart and mind of America.
Baseball developed before the Civil War but did not achieve professional status until the 1870s (The Baseball Glove, 2004). In 1871 the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was formed. Unfortunately the organization ran into financial hardships and was abandoned in 1875. The following year marked the formation of the National League of Professional Baseball Players, which was soon shortened to the National League (Ibid). In 1884 the rival American League was founded and the era of modern professional baseball began. Baseball has been the great American pastime and a reflection of our culture since. The sport is such an integral part of our culture today that we Americans sometimes take for granted its significance in our everyday lives. Contemporary baseball is so closely related with American ideals and identity that it often has served as an expression of patriotism. In times of national hardships, baseball has been used to encourage and rally the nation. In speaking of the emergence of America’s nationalism in the historic and contemporary playing field, there are several key issues that surface. Of these issues I will specifically address the long residuals of how baseball has helped to establish our (Americans) national spirit and identity. That is the links between our heritage and national institutions and the game of baseball as a cultural and political representative abroad and unifying tradition at home. I will also address ideals and injustices. That is how baseball’s acceptability has changed over time, and how this acts as a microcosm for America’s changing attitudes about equality and opportunity.
Of the two key concepts underlying the emergence of the American nation, one has prevailed since historical times, the patriotism and national identity ideals, and the other has to some extent, disappeared since historical times, the extreme discrimination and social intolerability. The use of baseball to establish a national spirit and identity in the form of patriotism still exists in the contemporary sport of baseball. One tradition that began in 1910 by President William H. Taft was the presidential “first pitch”. (Baseball as America, 2005). The presidents’ annual appearance at the start of each season symbolically renewed the bonds that the country, its leaders, and the game of baseball shared. The opening pitch by the president in baseball offered a welcome connection to a noble, all-American image. Another example of baseball and its relation to a national identity and patriotism was in 1941 when the terrors of World War II saw the shores of the United States. Baseball officials were willing to temporarily end the baseball season in order to focus on the national crisis. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not feel that this was a good idea. He wrote in the “Green Light Letter” to commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that, “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going” (Jackson, 2004). President Roosevelt felt that baseball should be continued through war in order to boost the country’s morale. In its current form, baseball is still used to rally the nation’s spirit. Hence, baseball’s goal to nurture a sense of collective identity has prevailed throughout history. In contemporary times, after September 11, 2001, Major League Baseball took a very patriotic stance, and baseball games were one of the first public group activities to resume after the terrorist attacks. When President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the 2001 World Series, the moment not only continued a Presidential tradition, but it symbolized Americas desire to continue life undeterred after these tragic attacks on our nation. In addition to baseball bringing