sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 26, 2019

baseball americana
posted by soe 1:44 am

I think I mentioned that I had taken the suggestion that several of you had to spend a portion of my birthday two weeks ago at the Library of Congress baseball exhibition. Pitchers and catchers had just reported for spring training, so it seemed a particularly apt time to go.

Baseball Americana

Keeping in mind that this is a library, rather than a hall of fame, I thought the curators did a nice job of pulling together materials that covered the highlights of the sport, from its highlights of bringing people together and lauding athletic prowess to its lowlights of cheating and discrimination.

The Promise of Baseball

There were mementos from the majors, from white baseball to the Negro Leagues to the women’s league that arose during WWII and that was memorialized in A League of Their Own, as well as collegiate ball, Little League, town and work teams, rec leagues, and international play.

The Women of Baseball

There was interesting trivia. For instance, did you know that the first intercollegiate baseball game was held between Williams and Amherst Colleges in Massachusetts, but since there was concern this was over-emphasizing students’ physicality, they made it a double-header with a chess match?

Muscle and Mind

Or that “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is about a woman fan? (Click through to Flickr to enlarge it so you can read the verses, rather than just the chorus we all know.)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

They showed the ways in which equipment has evolved over time. The most startling definitely comes in the form of the glove. While the mitt of 1922 is largely recognizable today, I’m not sure if you showed the one from 1885 to a modern player that they’d try to field with it. (And even that was an improvement over the sport’s original barehanded technique.)

1922 Glove Replica

1885 Glove Replica

There were highlights from baseball films and on tv. They showed some of the memorable national anthem performances. And there was a selection of highlights from radio and tv broadcasters, which included Don Larson’s perfect World Series game (the ticket stub and program for which are below), the 1986 Mets, the 2004 Red Sox, the 2016 Cubs, and the interruption of the game to announce that Apollo 11 had landed safely on the moon.

The Perfect Game

My Mets got both some of our favorite and most painful memories included:

Nowhere to Go But Up

Meet the Mets


After I had moved on to the next case, one of the women behind me started singing “Meet the Mets,” much to the surprise of her friend, who didn’t know she’d grown up a fan of the team.

Walter Johnson

The hometown team got a shoutout from one of its Senators’ heroes, Walter Johnson, as well as Nationals Park providing the backdrop for the selfie station.

Baseball Card

Obviously, I had a blast. If you’re in town (or can get here) before the exhibit closes in late July, I really hope you get a chance to see it. If you won’t be, they’ve put out an accompanying book, which is widely available and which your library might have.

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