Baseball is the only sport intertwined with the formation of American Culture.
Baseball is considered by most people living in America as the national pastime. This has been held in the most reverence by sports fans. Despite lower television ratings and the increasing popularity of American Football and Basketball, Baseball continues to be considered the national pastime. In order to better understand this, one must understand the definition of pastime and the people who are being influenced by the sport.
• Baseball began to become more influenced by immigrants in the 1900’s
• Ex-Civil war, African American soldiers played baseball along the east coast.
• Honus Wagner was one of the first great immigrant players.
A pastime is something that people do in their free time. Nowadays it’s easy to consider Xbox, Facebook or online betting as pastime activities that clearly outweigh baseball. But 150-200 years ago in America, sport wasn’t a lucrative business, but something practiced by most in their free time. Also, in the construction of modern day America, baseball had an influence on Africans, Italians, Latinos and other immigrants.
Baseball’s influence on immigrants
Africans were brought to the U.S. during colonial times via trade routes in Africa, Cuba and the Eastern United States. After the Civil War, ex African American soldiers along the east coast took to baseball. Industrial centers like New York, Detroit and Chicago would soon see great migration of African American’s from the South to the Northern U.S. Philadelphia, with a population of 22,000, became the “black center” for baseball.
From the Negro Leagues, young African American youth followed players such as Sachel Page, Josh Gibson and Gus Greenlee that would. When UCLA football star, Jackie Robinson was the first African American professional ballplayer in 1947, U.S sport changed. African Americans included in American life and inspired to pursue other areas that were reserved for only European Americans.
Equally influential are the increasing numbers of immigrants to these manufacturing areas. Many European immigrants not only worked in manual labor jobs, but established their own business in textiles, food and any “necessity” they could see a need for on the street. It’s the children of these immigrants that had such a strong influence on the development of baseball alongside the development of America.
These children not only played baseball in the streets and alleys, but also listened to the radio, waited outside of ball games and talked about it endlessly. Immigrant children, who “ate, drank and slept” baseball, would collect these cards with images of ball players on them and their performance statistics on the back. Baseball cards were among the earliest form of commercialization and laid the basis for US gambling news in sports.
Immigrants saw their first heroes as baseball players to emulate
Ed Abbaticchio was the first Italian American player who was on the Philly Phillies in 1897. Before long, immigrants were able to break further into baseball. Italian Americans became a dominant force in baseball. Opportunities for greens keepers, janitors, management and other supporting roles were taken advantage of by Italian Americans.
Immigrants were able to have a more active role in their image of America than just fans. Young Italian immigrants would continue to religiously follow superstars such as Louis Polli, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Roy Camponella. Legend has it, two Cuban students returned from the U.S to Cuba with a ball, a bat and knowledge of the sport which would result in a generation of Cubans and other Latin Amercan ball players.
During the turn of the century, Pittsburg was a major industrial center for steel and a peak destination for Central and Eastern European immigrants. Well known to U.S gambling news, Pittsburg had one of the oldest establish professional clubs in the U.S. Barney Dreyfuss, a German, owned the Pittsburg Pirates and is star player was another German named Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner. Dreyfuss made the Hall of Fame.
Wagner was an early superstar in the baseball. Not only is he a Hall of Fame ballplayer, his baseball card was recently sold for $2.8 making it the most expensive card in the hobby. Baseball is a sport that involves teamwork as well as singular achievement. It best represents the blueprint for “America’s achievement” and opens up more ways to profit from sport through US gambling laws. The fact that baseball originated during the building of America is why we call it “The Great American Pastime.”