The National Pastime

added 8/22/2004 by Gene Elston

Baseball as we know it today had its beginning in 1845 (although the term “baseball” was first used in the United States in 1791) only 15 years after our Founding Fathers signed our Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Baseball’s Founding Fathers, those most responsible for the format that closely resembled what we watch today, were Alexander Cartwright and Henry Chadwick. I mention this because history has played such a tremendous part, not only in the formation of the game, but a continuation of the games’ storied tradition.

Baseball has overcome a myriad of problems over this period – gambling scandals, six wars, labor strikes and more recently, over the past three or four decades - drugs. Gambling was running rampant in the teen years of the 1900s, its cancer was more prevalent than baseball cared to admit – the Black Sox scandal of 1919 was merely the tip of the iceberg.

These problems have nipped at baseball’s heels at one time or another – yet the game itself remains basically the same – that is to say “between the lines.”

I love the pace of the game, marked by no clock, what you got in the past even when you were a child – you got today – outs, strikes, errors, balks, rhubarbs all wrapped up in a neat nine inning package.

Some say the game is too slow – they know not what they say – SLOW is part of the game, subliminally to some it is the ESSENCE of the game. When there’s a break in the action let me relax with no ticks of the clock, let me enjoy the chance baseball gives me to second guess, should the batter bunt or swing away, let me take a break during a pitching change and relish the surroundings while the manager waits on the mound hoping the move will get his team out of a jam.

Baseball is popular in so many ways – it is a simple game, easy to understand and yet it offers its fans the opportunity to delve into it's complexes as one sees fit. Each fan understands the game in its mere simplicity - throw the ball, hit the ball, run around the bases and try to return home safely. Each fan will in time become addicted and discover the games’ many nuances.

Baseball is eclectic. If you want to see INDIVIDUAL skills and at the same watch a TEAM in action – this is your game. Begin with the one-on-one confrontation between the pitcher and batter. Meanwhile, scan the field of play and observe seven teammates on their toes anticipating the outcome of the battle ensuing on the mound and at the plate.

Suddenly, the ball is hit and all eyes follow as the individual action shifts to team. The ball and one player come together, he’s on the spot, all alone, all eyes are on him, will he make the play by himself or will he need the help of a teammate?

Think about it!

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