Ingrained in American Folklore, the story of baseball begins in 1837 with a young troop named Abner Doubleday who invented the game utilizing a simple stick and ball in the city of Cooperstown, where the current Baseball Hall of Fame stands now. Although much of this story has now been proven incorrect – the founding father of baseball is credited to Alexander Cartwright – baseball has grown side by side with the nation, and has become known as ’America’s Pastime’. The game will always occupy an important place in American culture.
The game is relatively simple – being played with a bat, a ball, four bases in a diamond formation, a pitcher, a batter, and fielders awaiting every move. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, and no game has generated so much interest for so long throughout American history. Throughout the nation’s evolution – the development of American industry; the rise to Superpower status; involvement in major combat from the Civil War to the War on Terror; the terms of 36 presidents; the one constant throughout has been baseball.
Philosopher Jacques Barzun once observed that anyone wishing to understand the heart and mind of America should study the sport of baseball. Many scholars agree that indeed baseball seems to embody many of the values that dominate an urbanized and industrialized America. Baseball may be perceived as a sort of mirror in which American values, power, politics, fashion, class, economics, and race may be viewed in this microcosm. Baseball reveals significant themes like urbanism, technology, class, race, and gender and can be seen as a force for passing along such essential values as hard work, social mobility, democracy, and teamwork.
From the late 19th century, two professional leagues – the National and American Leagues were independently operated. The winners of each league would play each other to determine the best team in the World Series, with the first World Series being played in 1884. In 1920, both leagues began to operate under one governing body – Major League Baseball (MLB), which is the highest level of professional baseball in the world. Since MLB’s inception, the game of baseball has flourished.
Baseball is a game of patience and possibility. With every pitch and every play, there is always anticipation, because in every pitch and every play there is the potential to witness a moment of greatness. Baseball has produced such memorable moments and cultural icons from Babe Ruth’s historic home run feats, Jackie Robinson shattering the color barrier as the first black man in American professional sports, Hank Aaron chasing Babe Ruth’s career record under the constant stress and physical threat, to today’s Barry Bonds, the most feared hitter in the game.
Indeed, baseball is truly a great game!