Baseball in Days Gone By
By Paul Rosa Email the author of this article
NCSA Member #135
Baseball! Never has any other sport captivated the hearts and minds of so many Americans. Little did Abner Doubleday realize at the time, in 1839, what a phenomena he would start! Mr. Doubleday, by the way, for all you history buffs, was to direct the first shot from Fort Sumter as a Union General in response to the Confederate attack. He also would distinguish himself at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Although still a very popular pastime, it is this writer's belief that baseball reached its peak in the 1950's and 1960's -- but, then again, I guess I'm a little bit prejudiced. I'm also showing my age
But there are so many fond events that have transpired over the course of this century that it seems baseball also deserves a slot in American history. What better way to bring back past events and convey the exciting times of the last few generations than with the newspaper? Through all the games from the last 150 years ago to present, the newspaper was always there. Of course, there's always baseball cards to jar our memories but who could afford them today? Besides, even if we had them as kids 35 or 40 years ago, we all know what mom eventually did with them!
Although loss of memory seems to accompany the increase of our time on this Earth, for some reason the passing of years seems to sear those by-gone baseball days even deeper into our memories. My father attended Lou Gerhig Day at Yankee Stadium when the Iron Horse's days were numbered. He had saved the stubs on that day fifty years ago. Today, I have them and they probably mean more to me than they did to my father.
Babe Ruth's 1932 "called" shot during the 1932 World Series: Did it actually happen or has the passing of time caused the truth to be twisted to fit our expectations? A whole story can probably be written just on that October day! As I said the newspapers were there that day.
I'm looking through my newspapers and trying to pick out a few for Rick to use in this article, I began with some from the 1860's and proceeded to work forward. As I was sorting them, I realized something. As this country started the 20th century, the baseball stories slowly started creeping from their preassigned habitat in the Sports section (i.e., at the back of the paper) towards the front pages. It seemed to become prominent around 1920 with the breaking of the Black Sox scandal and just when a man named George Herman Ruth started showing potential. Although newspapers are my first love, I've collected sports memorabilia since I was a kid. As I'm sure many of you are aware, it's very easy to have an existing hobby branch off into another.
There's such a thin line drawn among collectors of different types of ephemera. It takes a great deal of restraint to stick to only one. But, as I said before, no matter what the event, the newspaper covered it. As a New Yorker and a Yankee fan since I was a kid (Otherwise my father would have thrown me out of the house), you still couldn't help like those boys of summer over in Brooklyn. What was there not to like But a true Yankee fan kept that to himself!
In school, the teachers would let us listen to the World Series during class and I remember running home at breakneck speed to watch Don Larsen finish pitching his historic game.
Today, baseball doesn't enthuse me as it did back then -- for obvious reasons. But if our memories become a little clouded at times, we always have our newspapers to bring back those cherished times when baseball was king!