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In the 1850s, young artisans and clerks, frequently displaced in the city and finding their way of life changing rapidly in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, conceived of themselves as members of what was known as the “base ball fraternity.” Like the volunteer fire departments and militia units of the day, they donned special uniforms, developed their own rituals, and, in playing baseball, shared powerful common experiences.Playing and watching baseball contests also strengthened occupational, ethnic, and racial identities.Because baseball was the national game, its racial integration was of enormous symbolic importance in the United States; indeed, it preceded the U. Supreme Court’s decision ending racial segregation in the schools (in 1954 in ) and helped to usher in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
In 1994 the Public Broadcasting System released , arguably the most monumental historical television documentary ever made.
It provided, in the perceptive words of British novelist Virginia Woolf, “a centre, a meeting place for the divers activities of a people whom a vast continent isolates [and] whom no tradition controls.” No matter where one lived, the “hit-and-run,” the “double play,” and the “sacrifice bunt” were carried out the same way.
The unifying power of baseball in the United States was evident in the Depression-ravaged 1930s, when a group of Cooperstown’s businessmen along with officials from the major leagues established the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
United States is credited with developing several popular sports, including some (such as baseball, gridiron football, and basketball) that have large fan bases and, to varying degrees, have been adopted internationally.
But baseball, despite the spread of the game throughout the globe and the growing influence of Asian and Latin American leagues and players, is the sport that Americans still recognize as their “national pastime.” The game has long been woven into the fabric of American life and identity.