“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Rogers Hornsby, the great hitter whose playing career lasted from 1915-37, voiced that sentiment about baseball.
Many other baseball lovers, like Hornsby, pine for spring and the beginning of the season. For me, though, October is the real showcase for baseball. Sure, we sweat it out all summer long with our favorite teams, but when October rolls around, things get serious. The playoffs, the World Series–there is great drama wrapped up in our national pastime.
Pinpointing baseballâ€™s beginnings is a perpetual problem. Despite his colorful name and respectable military accomplishments, the dubious Abner Doubleday didnâ€™t invent baseball as popular culture has enticed us to believe.
Baseball historians continue to uncover references to baseball-like games dating back more than two centuries. Who knows when our ancestors first started playing the game? Perhaps various forms of baseball have been played ever since cave-dwelling kids hit rocks with sticks, and that was a long time ago. The modern game, however, traces its roots to Hoboken, New Jersey where a group of upper-middle class New Yorkers came to play their games on the Elysian Fields in the 1840s.
Like most sports that we play today, baseball has evolved over the years. Back then pitchers threw underhand; the first team to score twenty-one runs or â€œacesâ€ won; and, each team was allowed only one out per inning.
When youâ€™re watching the playoffs and the World Series this month, remember the boys of summer in the 1800s who sweated it out on unmanicured fields, without gloves or helmets, without trainers, managers, and multi-million dollar salaries.
And, remember that baseball played a role in many of your American ancestorsâ€™ lives. They played in vacant city lots and on plowed country fields; they played in their Civil War camps and prisons. They played in Little League, on town teams, on club teams, and on high school and college squads. And a few lucky ones made it to the big leagues. Continue reading