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Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Baseball being played at St. George's Field, Staten Island, New York, 1853
Here we are in 2016.  Today, Major League baseball is holding its annual All-Star game in my hometown, San Diego, California.   Definitely baseball is and has been the game of America’s youth.  It is more universal and participation friendly.  Everyone has played baseball, while very few of us in comparison have actually donned the pads and helmets of football.

The All Star game is a welcome pause to celebrate baseball and its American roots.  

Yet, it is only a game, but it is made from the same fabric as the Stars & Stripes.

Baseball, like our Democracy endures the bad times as well as the good.  The game provided welcome diversion in during our species darkest times like between battles in the Civil War; on bloody islands in the Pacific during WWII or now as we listen to accounts of terrorist bombings around the world.

Union Troops believed to be Company G, 48th New York Volunteers are shown setting up to play baseball during the Civil War: Ft. Pulaski, Georgia, 1862
One of the few photos of baseball being played during the Civil War.
Baseball, indeed, continued during World War II to give American’s a welcome sense of normalcy even when world events made life far from normal.

Baseball doesn’t seem to change.  Sadly when it comes to war either do we.

Glancing at the 1853 illustration above it is easy to see the dimensions of the game have not changed much either including the jargon—a shortstop was a shortstop in the 1850s just as now.

Illustration shows the St. George Grounds, Staten Island, New York. This field, in 1853 hosted a game between the Washington Club (later known as the Gotham Club) and the Knickerbocker Club. The field was said to slope sharply from third base to left field and was a very short walk to the Staten Island Ferry dock. The National League New York Giants were the last team to use the filed in the 19th century on June 14, 1889.

Another illustration shows a political cartoon published before Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860.  The metaphor between baseball and politics shows that the jargon of the game was well established by then.
Civil War General Abner Doubleday—as legend has it—invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839.  Maybe that’s true, but one thing for sure—as this photo shows—he invented the comb over hair style.

Baseball theme political cartoon by Currier & Ives, 1860

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