America’s National Pastime

March 28, 2013

March 28, 2013        Tom Zeiller

April 1, marks the 137th season of America’s national pastime. And more than any other sport in America, it seems opening day in baseball is an honored tradition that remains timeless, says CU-Boulder history professor Tom Zeiller.

 

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America’s National Pastime

March 28, 2013        Tom Zeiller

April 1, marks the 137th season of America’s national pastime. And more than any other sport in America, it seems opening day in baseball is an honored tradition that remains timeless, says CU-Boulder history professor Tom Zeiller.

CUT 1  “It’s an event. And I think that is no different than 30 years ago, 60, 90 years ago. I don’t want to overplay baseball’s importance or spirituality as Ken Burns says, ‘…it’s in our DNA.’ (:13) But it does mark certain points of the year. Just like the falling leaves do. The beginning of the season with spring.” (:23)

And just as baseball marks certain points of the year it also marks moments in American history, says Zeiller.

CUT 2 “The game really, surprisingly, booms in the late 19th century and is in the public consciousness. It parallels with the growth in the media, newspaper coverage -- early 1900s. (:11) You get some big stars by then and what was called the dead ball era; it was also called the silver age of baseball – 1900, 1920. “ (:21)

In the 1920s, more changes help baseball grow in popularity. As the workweek becomes more regular, people can go to more afternoon games. Attractive, modern steel and concrete stadiums replace wooden structures. Lights are installed in stadiums so people can watch games at night. And then a player comes along and with one swing of the bat changes the game -- a player Americans can relate to, says Zeiller. His name is the “Babe.”

CUT 3 “He ushers in what’s called the ‘Big Bang Theory.’ It’s the home run. He eclipses the home run record, of course, goes on to 60 home runs. He is this excessive, quintessential, perhaps, American figure of the 1920s (:15) -- all out brawler, drinks, emotional, showboat, -- but seems to epitomize America and Americans loved him. So the game really booms then - connecting right there in the 20s with radio.” (:29)

When TV comes on to the scene a few decades later baseball becomes the king of sports. But that ‘Golden Era’ has passed, says Zeiller, giving way in popularity to more dynamic sports like basketball and American football -- sports made for TV. But Zeiller says baseball is still very popular and will always have its place in American culture.

CUT 4 “I don’t think anybody ever claimed beyond the dramatic of baseball -- the 9th inning home run, the ability to change the game at any moment -- beyond that I don’t think you could ever argue that baseball was as exciting a game. It’s just not as much movement. (:16) But if you think of it as a pastime, as almost a cultural icon -- and I think that young people, like older people, have picked that up --I don’t think the game really will ever die.” (:24)

On April 1, the Colorado Rockies will begin its 20th season in major league baseball against the Milwaukee Brewers. My, how time flies.

-CU-

 

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