A Brief History Of America’s National Pastime

2412 words - 10 pages

An article in the Babe Ruth Central website tells the story which took place in game three of the World Series in Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The New York Yankees were up two games to none on the Chicago Cubs. In the fifth inning, with the score tied four-four, many of the nearly 50,000 fans, and even players in the Chicago dugout, began taunting and heckling the batter. What happened next went down in baseball history as one of the most famous and controversial at-bats. The batter was none other than Babe Ruth, who, with two strikes and two balls, stepped out of the batters box and gestured toward the outfield as if to show where he was going to hit the ball. Ruth hits the next pitch over the wall in center field for a home run. Many people believe that Ruth was simply gesturing at the pitcher. While nobody will ever know for sure, that home run will always be known as “The Called Shot” (The Called). Throughout the years, baseball has seen its fair share of great players while evolving into the sport this country knows and loves today, but not without controversy.
The origin of the game is filled with myths and different stories, making it almost impossible to point to an exact date or person. According to a passage in the 19th Century Baseball website, author Eric Miklich writes that America’s pastime may have originated in Canada. Miklich tells the story of Dr. Adam E. Ford who wrote a letter about a game which had been played in 1838 and was described to have several key differences than baseball. Many people believe that baseball evolved from games played in England- mainly cricket and rounders- while others believe the German game of town ball is where it all started. On October 6, 1845 the first official baseball team, the New York Knickerbockers, participated in the first baseball game on record. The Knickerbockers were led by “The Father of Baseball” Alexander Cartwright, who went on to published the original rules of baseball (Miklich).
Since Cartwright and the Knickerbockers, the game has seen an explosion in popularity launched during the time of the Civil War. Terry Bluett in “Baseball and the Civil War” explains prior to the war, baseball was a game only played in the New York area. Those who played the game and went off to war began to teach their fellow soldiers how to play. Soldiers of all ranks participated in playing baseball in their camps and were even promoted by generals because it greatly improved the morale within the camps (Bluett). Another jump in popularity took place during World War II. Many players at the time went off to war, which may have contributed to the statistically lower level of play. However, President Roosevelt wanted the game to continue through the war to give the American people a constant in their everyday life. The 1945 season saw an all-time high attendance and was the last year of the war (Corso).
In the subsequent 50 years, baseball has had a steady increase. The MLB has seen their gross income...

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