Baseball and American Popular Culture

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Baseball is an integral part of American pop culture. Many Americans grow up with baseball, playing it before they can even count all the bases. It is glorified, taught, and fed to us. When we play baseball, we find a respect for the game. The respect we gain from playing it has turned the game into a tradition of American culture. It has formed itself into the business of professional baseball, namely major league baseball. Professional players have become recognized all over the world. They are sought out and admired by fans. Because of their popularity, these players have written books, endorsed commercial products, and found successful and rewarding careers by playing a game. According to Wallup, author of Baseball: An Informal History, baseball has been apart of our culture since the mid to late nineteenth century(Wallup, p16). Our great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have been brought up with it and our parents teach the sport to us.

When the notion of baseball comes to mind, a feeling of nostalgia and tradition come to me. Many of my feelings and memories originate from my childhood. I remember a beautiful summer day. My dad and I arrived at the baseball stadium to watch the game. We walked up the concrete walkway inside the stadium. The concrete walls and floors made my surroundings drab and grey. Finally, we made it to entrance into the stadium. I came out of the dark tunnels into the bright sunlight. The first thing to catch my eye was the vivid rush of color. Underneath the fluffy white clouds and their deep blue canvas, I could look down and see players in vibrant red and blue uniforms warming up for the game. The well-watered grass on the field was a brighter green than any other grass I had seen. The outfield seemed to be so perfect. It appeared that each blade had been cut by hand. The edge of the infield, where the dark, watered-down dirt met the intensely green grass was a precise and well-defined contrast. We sat down and I took in my surroundings. There were men walking up and down the stairs selling various concessions. They had peanuts, beer, soda, ice cream, popcorn, and many other tempting treats. The players soon finished their warm-ups and the crowd became frenzied with excitement. The game was about to start.

Baseball has its own traditions in America and playing the national anthem is one of them. This well-practiced act of group togetherness serves two purposes. First, it pays tribute to our country, bringing our American values to the game. Secondly, it seems to hype up the game, making the cheering crowd an active part of the contest. This enthusiasm leads to cheers when their team turns a great play or to boos and catcalls due to an umpire's bad judgement.

It hard to describe why Americans likes to watch baseball. For me, it has to do with the excitement and appreciation of the game. Since I was big enough to hold a baseball, I have been playing the game. I appreciate it because I have played it and I have experienced the struggle between pitcher and batter. Neither one hates the other, but when the pitcher takes the mound, he or she wants to blast it past his opponent. Conversely, when batters step up, their personal goal is to put a hole through the pitcher when they send the ball blazing back. It's this understanding of the emotions involved that makes watching the game enjoyable to me.

It has become a tradition to go watch a game with the family. Rooted in this custom are our culture's values of family and passing the experiences from parent to child. According to A.G. Spalding, author of America's National Game, baseball "is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence, Combativeness ...Dash, ...Determination, ...Energy, ...Enthusiasm

...Spirit, ...Vim, Vigor, and Virility"(Spalding, p.4). We see the game of baseball as an activity for family to go to the local ball park to see a son, daughter, nephew, or niece play. It pleases us to see our friends or family playing the game and enjoying it. Baseball gives us reason to get our friends together and have fun.

Professional baseball has become an institution that reflects shifting values in American society. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s,