Before we jump into the 1940’s and 50’s. The history of baseball has been debated by historian of where the origin of the game was from. Some say that it created by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York. Other will debate that it was from Alexander Joy Cartwright. From my research, Cartwright was the person who developed the rules of baseball in 1845. He played for the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. The rules were based of rounders, which was a European style of the game. Rounders had two different rule which made the difference in the game: first, you could tag the person out with the ball. Second, this led to the change of the type of ball. Since you couldn’t throw the ball at the person anyone more, the ball style turned into a harder ball.
None of these rules were really adopted until the Civil War, when a New York solider and New Jersey solider taught each other their version of baseball. The New York version was considered a hard ball, which allowed players to hit the ball further. While the New Jersey version was considered a soft ball, which gave the player a better chance of hitting the ball. Soon after the Civil War ended the New York version of baseball became the favorite version to play among the soldiers. “In 1853 a revision of the rules prescribed the weight and size of the ball, along with the dimension of the infield specification that have not been significantly altered since that time.” (baseball) Soon after that was established large cities like D.C.; New York; Philadelphia started to create club leagues in their city.
With city teams coming it this led to the creation of the American League and National League. These leagues were just common in the east coast before 1953 when The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. Soon after their movies other teams started to move west. This created the “...Pacific Coast League, included Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Rainers, San Diego Padres, Portland Beavers, Oakland Oaks, Sacramento Solons, San Francisco Seals, and Hollywood Stars.” (Krsolovic) Out of these leagues it helped establish the World Series in 1904, where the leagues would get together and play best four out of seven.
Men had always played this game professionally until WWII. Most of the males players took off to fight the war. During this time period, the American society was based on females working and helping the country out, while their boys are fighting on the other side of the word. Now the women didn’t work all the time, since baseball had grown so popular. Thank you, Mr. Babe Ruth. “Female athletes played int the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGBL) between 1943 and 1954. Over 600 women displayed their athletic skills in the AAGPBL.” (Cullen) These numbers soon started to go down when the war ended and man were coming back into the game. Even though the game play for females were short , this created a social view that women were able to be athletic like men were and helped created the view of Rosie the Riveter during WWII.
When the United States entered WWII, few major league baseball executives started to find ways to keep baseball alive for the public. This created the AAGBL, but the rules and regulation were totally different from the Major League of Baseball (MLB). “Ball was 12 inch in circumference, pitcher’s mount was forty feet from the plate, pitchers had to throw underhand, and distance between bases was sixty-five feet. “ (Cullen) Not only regulation was changed the uniform for female changed as well. Female played had to have skirts no more then six inches above the knee, short-sleeved tunic with a belt, and team logo. Even though females weren’t able to wear trousers, mangers were still encouraging female players to wear lipstick to still represent their feminist side. [pic]
Baseball didn’t stop integrating after females got a chance at it. African Americans actually had a league of their own since 1880s. The league was known as the negro leagues, where white teams would play again them in an exhibition game. With discrimination going on after the Civil War these exhibition games were looked down upon and ultimately led to regulation where white players could not represent their team when they were playing against African American. This didn’t stop African American from playing baseball. Countries like Cuba and Mexico didn’t have a segregated league so they would travel down there for the winter and come back up to the states for the summer league. This league soon started to fade away by 1960s the Indianapolis Clowns were the last Negro team.
Even though the Negro leagues died, this destroyed the color barrier that was first created since the leagues were created. Since the teams have had history playing with the negro, this allowed them to support the integration of the two colors. This all started to happen when Happy Chandler who was the Commissioner was open to the idea of allowing black players to play. The first African American in modern major leagues was the famous Jackie Robinson. He was signed on by the Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey. Rickey had a story that when he was playing college ball for Ohio Wesleyan University. He had a teammate that was black and was denied a room to stay, when they were traveling to play. Rickey recalled those memories and how he not only wanted to desegregate baseball, but the country.
Integration was not only necessary it was changing the sport. After Robinson was signed on, Larry Doby was signed to the Cleveland Indians followed by Roy Campanella, Satchel Paige. Not only that Robinson brought change in racial equality, but the impact on the field changed. Instead swinging for the fence, pitchers now had to pay attention to runners on the base, if they decide to steal. Baseball had fiver eras: deadball, baseball rebirth, golden years, baseball boom, and modern.
During the deadball era, one ball was used during the game unless it was lost. Teams avoid hitting home runs and pitchers like Cy Young and Walter Johnson were know for their spitball. The spitball today is an illegal throw, reason why it’s illegal is because the pitcher is alternating the ball to their favor. How they do this is adding a certain spin or weighting down one side of the ball with spit or vaseline. Another famous incident was the 1919 World Series when Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the game. This ended the era, but there was one man that kept the game alive and he was known as the Bambino.
In the rebirth of the game: spitball were taken out of the game, no single ball was used per game, the new design to the ball, and batter became more aggressive. Babe Ruth on the New York Yankees was just know to hit home runs then any other person in the game. What happen was the design of the ball and harder restriction on pitchers allowed batter to swing hard and for the fence. Which remained unchanged till the Golden Years. This was when we started to see integration in the game and how it effected the game. “Night baseball soon became popular, radio and television started air the games, in terms of game play, stolen bases and home runs became popular.” (Briley)
Overall the game has kept changing through out time and has adapted to our country and helped influenced our country. The sport itself had help developed the country as one and has bridge different views together. From historical events we can see that the game has a lot to do with the social culture during the time period. From a change to a ball to throwing a world series. Coming from a person who doesn’t care for baseball, this has made me realize that the sport has contributed a lot for the country, and understand the meaning why it’s our national sport.
"baseball." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 01 May. 2013. . Briley, Ron. The Baseball Film in Postwar America : A Critical Study, 1948-1962. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2011. Ebook Library. Web. 01 May. 2013. Cullen-DuPont, Kathryn. Encyclopedia of Women's History in America. 2. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print Krsolovic, Ken; Fritz, Bryan. League Park : Historic Home of Cleveland Baseball, 1891-1946. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2013. Ebook Library. Web. 01 May. 2013. NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 2005, pp. 71-81 (Article)
NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2004, pp. 102-113 (Article)