Common Ground in a Divided Nation

Throughout my baseball and statistics course at Quinnipiac University, I encouraged my students to write postings for my blog. This will be the first student posting. Other student postings will follow. But, I will also be keeping my readers up to date on the future signings of the more than 150 free agents still unsigned. Of course, Robinson Cano is considered the top free agent. I predict when all is said and done Cano will be a Yankee. News Flash: The Mets have just signed Chris Young for $7.25 million. Young’s stats for 2013 were in 375 plate appearances he batted a whopping .200 with a dismal .280 on-base percentage. His 12 home runs were the fewest since he entered the majors in 2006. Boy, this signing should really excite Mets fans. Can you believe Young deserves $7.25 million? I hope you enjoy the following wonderful student posting about the history of baseball.

Baseball has long been revered as America’s national pastime. It began as a “gentlemen’s game” in the early 1800s and eventually evolved into a recreational game that anybody of any class could be a part of and enjoy. The game of baseball mainly began in and around New York. As the country went through the Civil War, the game endured and expanded with the young men in army camps and prisons, eventually reaching past the Mason Dixon line and establishing itself in the South.

The origin of modern baseball served as a way to bring people together in a divided time; it was the country’s saving grace. It still continues to bring people together in times of crisis, as seen in the tributes to the victims of the Boston Marathon this past year. Though the Civil War greatly affected the economy and society in the South, baseball erupted following the war and became a business and a way for people to make money and set a professional career path. Albert Spalding, a pitcher, manager and executive in the early years of professional baseball, once said, “Modern baseball had been born in the brain of an American soldier. It received its baptism in the bloody days of our Nation’s direst danger. It had its early evolution when soldiers, North and South, were striving to forget their foes by cultivating, through this grand game, fraternal friendship with comrades in arms.”

Soldiers played for fun. It became a way for officers and other soldiers to play together, with the focus on abilities and talent, instead of military rank or social status. They played for fun as a distraction from the war and it not only boosted morale and promoted teamwork, but also helped the men to work out and be active. Both Union and Confederate officers shared this sentiment. According to, Private Alpheris B. Parker of the 10th Massachusetts wrote, “The parade ground has been a busy place for a week or so past, ball-playing having become a mania in camp. Officer and men forget, for a time, the differences in rank and indulge in the invigorating sport with a schoolboy’s ardor.” These baseball games were originally referred to as “Townball” and became popularly organized in both army camps and prisons in the North and South.

Sports can be incredibly powerful and can bring people together even in the midst of the most terrible circumstances and divisions that occurred during the Civil War. This war was the bloodiest Americans have seen and many people do not know that something positive other than the end of slavery could have come out of the war. Baseball was, and will always be a common ground in a divided nation. As Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game.”

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