Sports

History of America’s Favorite Pastime

Baseball team
The Kirkwood Men’s Baseball team as they warm up during practice on Wednesday April 22, 2021. PHOTO BY ANIUHA YOUNG.

For a game that is played with a ball and a stick, baseball has quite a complex history.  

One thing for certain – it originated right here in America. 

With the Major League Baseball (MLB) season starting, it’s only right to look back at the history of the sport. Many people believe baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday as early as 1839. However, that is considered a myth by several experts. The staff of the History channel’s website believes it was developed from cricket and rounders, two traditional English games. 

Baseball’s rules were formed by early groups that played the game, such as the three strike rules and diamond shape field (History). Interesting enough, it gained immense popularity during the Civil War. Soldiers used it has a distraction to get their mind off their surroundings. After the war’s completion, most of them brought the concept home, and it became a game played nationwide. 

Many former major leaguers and Hall of Famers served the country. Many players, even in the prime of their baseball careers, enlisted in the military. Their passion for the game and love for the country were intertwined. It has remained a beloved activity in the armed forces to this day.  

Perhaps the most important part of its history came during the Civil Rights movement. Professional baseball leagues were separated by race in a segregated society. It took many progressive people within the game to break down the color barriers. None of them are more remembered than Jackie Robinson. He was a symbol for equality and his accomplishments fueled African Americans to continue their fight against discrimination. 

Nowadays, baseball continues to bring people together. The 2010’s brought upon tragedies that were difficult to overcome. The Boston Bombings in 2013 could have crippled the city, but the citizens rallied together with one message: “Boston Strong.” Their very own Red Sox took the phrase literally and brought a championship home to the courageous fans.  

Houston also faced extreme adversity when the city was left to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Harvey. Athletes spent time helping the community rebuild and donating to those in need. Their hometown team, the Astros, beat all odds and won their first-ever championship that same year.  

These events showed baseball’s overreaching impact on people’s lives. A simple game originally played with a simple ball and a stick is now so much more than that. In its rich history, baseball has featured patriotic athletes, led social movements, and helped communities heal in times of despair. Throw in the entertainment it provides on any given summer afternoon, and there is no question as to why it’s one of America’s favorite pastimes. 

Image courtesy of Aniuha Young

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