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CD: Texts available on CD version.Texts available in multiple languages.

Ballparks of Baseball - The Fields of Major League Baseball
· Baseball
Baseball (PBS)
· Baseball Almanac - the "Official" Baseball History Site
· Baseball
· The Baseball Archive
Baseball Goes Global
Baseball Plays to America's Heart and Mind CD
· "The Home of Baseball History"
· "Birdland: Two Observations on the Cultural Significance of Baseball" by Gerald Early. Excerpts

· Major League Baseball - The Official Site
· MLB Scoreboard from ESPN
· The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
· Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

· Portrait of America: Export von Popkultur Deutsch CD

· Portrait of America: Exporting Popular Culture CD
· The Sporting News: Baseball Archives

· This Great Game

Original Documents
· Major League Baseball: Official Rules

· The Internationalization of Baseball (Podcast)
· Multimedia Room
· Take Me Out to the Ballgame, sung by Edward Meeker (1908)


Child with baseball glove.The sport that evokes more nostalgia among Americans than any other is baseball. So many people play the game as children that it has become known as "the national pastime."

The exact origins of baseball are unknown, but most historians agree that it is based on the English game of rounders.

Baseball field. 1887
Base ball. 1887,
(L. Prang)

It became quite popular in the early 19th century; many sources report the growing popularity of a game called "townball", "base", or "baseball". In 1845, Alexander Cartwright formalized a list of rules by which all teams could play. Rules, scoring and record-keeping gave baseball gravity. As one sport historian noted, "Baseball without records is inconceivable." For most Americans, for example, it is common knowledge that Roger Maris's 61 home runs (balls that cannot be played because they have been hit out of the field) in 1961 broke Babe Ruth's record of 60 in 1927.

The first professional baseball league was established in 1871. By the start of the 20th century, most large cities in the eastern United States had a professional baseball team but baseball truly came of age in the 1920s, as Babe Ruth (1895-1948) playing for the New York Yankees became a national hero.

Jackie Robinson comic book Fawcett Pubs, 1951.

Over the decades, every team has had its great players. Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. A gifted and courageous athlete, he was the first African-American player in the major leagues in 1947. Prior to Robinson, black players had been restricted to the Negro League.

Starting in the 1950s, baseball expanded its geographical range. Western cities lured teams to move from eastern cities or formed so-called expansion teams with players made available by established teams. From the start, major league baseball has been divided into the National League and the American League.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras delivers a pitch during the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field Saturday, Oct. 22, 2005, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Pitcher Jose Contreras at the 2005 World Series between theChicago White Soxand the Houston Astros. (AP Photo/ Mark J. Terrill)

The major league baseball season lasts from April to October and includes the regular season, the playoffs, and the World Series. The most victorious team in each league is said to have won the "pennant;" the two pennant winners met after the end of the regular season and a series of playoff within league subdivisions in the World Series. The winner of this series becomes the major league world champion.

Until the 1970s, because of strict contracts, the owners of baseball teams virtually owned the players. Since then, the rules have changed so that players are free, within certain limits, to sell their services to any team. The results have been bidding wars; stars are paid millions of dollars a year. Disputes between the players' union and the owners have at times halted baseball for months at a time. Baseball is both a sport and a business. Many disgruntled fans sometimes view the business side as the dominant one.

Major league baseball (MLB) is the highest level of professional baseball competition in North America including teams from the United States and Canada.
Today, baseball is played in the United States on the amateur level in Little League, high school and university and various community leagues.

Over the course of the 20th century, baseball spread to many nations, notably many Latin American countries, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, but also Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. Cuba's first professional league was formed in 1878, just shortly after the first American league was established. Baseball became popular in Japan after American soldiers introduced it during the occupation following World War II.

Baseball was a demonstration sport at the 1912, 1936, 1956, 1964, 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. It became a medal sport in 1992. Cuba has won three of the four gold medals since then, with the U.S. claiming gold in 2000. Softball, a variation of baseball, was added in 1996. In 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted to eliminate baseball from the Olympics after 2008. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will probably be the last Games with baseball and softball for the foreseeable future.

Comparable to the soccer World Cup, the first annual World Baseball Classic took place in venues in the United States, Japan and Puerto Rico in March 2006. The purpose of the four-round tournament, which featured 15 teams from overseas plus a United States squad, is twofold - first to build worldwide exposure for the game, and second, to encourage grassroots development of the sport and athletes in both traditional and nontraditional baseball nations.

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.

Exhibits - Digital Images
· Autographed Baseballs in the Joyce Sports Collection, University of Notre Dame
· Baseball Cards 1887-1914
Early Baseball Pictures, 1860s-1920s

For High School Students
· Baseball Basics: On the Field

Fact Monster: Baseball
· How Stuff Works > The Game of Baseball Channel

· Join America at Play > Play Ball!

Junior Baseball: America's Youth Baseball Magazine
· Learn2 Understand Baseball

· Major League Baseball. Kids' Dugout
· Presidents and Baseball
· Science of Baseball

· The World Almanac for Kids > Sports > Baseball > Basics of the Game l Origins and History


Teacher Resources
· Baseball and American Cultural Values. Ronald Briley
· Baseball ... As American as Apple Pie. Learning Page
· Baseball. For Teachers
· Baseball How-Tos, Instruction, Tips
· Batter Up for the World Series
· National Baseball Hall of Fame ... Enriching Education
· The School Athletics Center: Baseball

Link Lists
· About Baseball
· The Baseball
· Google Web Directory > Sports > Baseball
· John Skilton's Baseball Links
· Open Directory: Sports > Baseball
Society for American Baseball Research
The Virtual Library of Sport > Baseball Resources
The Virtual Library of Sport > Resources for American Baseball
· Yahoo! Recreation > Sports > Baseball


Feature Articles (from
Little League Baseball Aims to Blend Fun, Character Development. Organization has grown to serve millions of youths around the world, by Ralph Dannheisser
2008 Games Could Mark “Strike Three” for Baseball in Olympics. Supporters hope sport will return in 2016, by Ralph Dannheisser
Baseball, Once Just an American Game, Extends Reach Worldwide. Foreign-born players star in United States as sport flourishes overseas, by Ralph Dannheisser
“Trinity” of Sports Demonstrates American Beliefs. Popular games cast light on moral decisions in real life, says religion scholar, by Craig A. Forney
Traditional Baseball Song Turns 100. Century-old tune enduring part of U.S. baseball culture
Baseball Seen as the Game of Innocence and Growth. The sport was rhapsodized in U.S. poetry and prose, by Roger Rosenblatt
Black Americans Have Rich History in Professional Baseball. Sport provided cultural exposure, jobs for players in era of discrimination, by David Anthony Denny
Baseball Great Jackie Robinson Broke Color Barrier in 1947. First black major league baseball player key to desegregating sports, by David Pitts
The World Baseball Classic a Global Salute to the Sport, by Michael Bandler
Baseball Plays to America's Heart and Mind, by Stephen Holgate
Negro Leagues Gave Female Baseball Legend Her Start. Mamie "Peanut" Johnson speaks at Library of Congress, by Jamie Martin

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Updated: July 2009