Still America’s Pastime: The Longevity of Baseball in U.S. Culture
Dr. Jeanne Petit, Hope College
Robert Frost once wrote “I am never more at home in America than at a baseball game.” To some Americans, a baseball field is hallowed ground; it is a sacred space. Fans devote their time, money and emotions to a group of men who, in reality, play a game for a living. The Chicago Cubs have been heartbroken year after year and have not won a World Series since 1908, but why is their fan base one of the strongest in the country? Why do fans in general devote so much time to their hometown baseball club? In the twentieth century, baseball was the king of the entertainment industry. In 1930, Babe Ruth was the first player to have a higher salary than the President. He changed the way baseball was played by hitting towering home runs, years before the home run became an art of the game. The twenty-first century is showing that more Americans enjoy football and basketball over baseball. In the summer of 2010, an NFL preseason game got a higher overnight rating (television) than a Yankees vs. Red Sox game, the fiercest rivalry in baseball. Despite escalating popularity of football and basketball, I will argue that there are ongoing historical and cultural reasons that account for the longevity of baseball as “America’s pastime.”
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