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tv   American Artifacts Baseball in America - Origins of the Modern Game  CSPAN  April 26, 2021 1:32pm-2:03pm EDT

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♪♪ tonight an evening of african-american history. cleveland sellers talks about his work in the 1960s as a student nonviolent coordinate committee.
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watch tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern, and watch american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. next, we visit the baseball americana exhibit at the library of congress in washington, d.c. to learn about the origins of the modern game, the impact of immigrants and the increasing importance of statistics. >> i'm susan reyburn, curator of the exhibition, baseball americana. welcome to the library of congress.
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this is a collaboration the library did with major league baseball, espn and the baseball hole of fame in cooperstown. we've got incredible things on display, things you've probably never seen before. let's start with some of the earliest. right now we're standing in the front of the exhibit at the origins of the early days where we've got some interesting artifacts and suggests baseball has a history that's much longer than the 19th century. in fact, we have an example from a medieval manuscript, little miniature figures that were part of a border of a book produced in 1344. we have a lot of row houses here, and a lot of fans would often gather late in the day to sit on the roofs and watch a free game of baseball, but what these fire insurance maps do and we have them for a number of cities here in the library is show these stadiums are right in
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the midst of their community, they are not out in some pasture as we think about that with early baseball, and this map was updated in the early 20th century. the fans usually will often keep score in ways they don't with other sports, and everybody develops their own style based on a template that they learned. another ritual, of course, is singing "take me out to the ball game." this is the original sheet music when it song came out, and the words from a man that claimed he never had seen a baseball game before he started writing it, it
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captures a lot of sentiment of what you do at a baseball game, and we only sing a small portion of the song at the games. we only sing the chorus. much of the song is about a woman named katie casey that wants to go to a ball game instead of see a show, and she was actually based on this woman woman you see on the left. he divorced his wife and he was about to marry this woman when he abruptly canceled plans and instead ran off and married norma bays here, and she co-wrote with him let's get the umpire's goat. the song eventually kind of
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faded into memory and it was not until the 1970s that harry caray, the announcer began singing the number during the seventh inning stretch, and other teams adopted it and now you will find it at almost every game major league or minor league, you will find them singing it, and there was a time when it disappeared and then was rediscovered again. you go back to 1910 and you have president taft throwing out an opening pitch at griffin stadium for the washington senators, and he sets off a presidential tradition, wherever president except for the current occupant has thrown out a pitch for opening day, all-star game or world series, something like that, and it's a tradition that goes back to the 1880s of having celebrities or governors throw out the opening pitch, and the
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biggest fan in the white house was the first lady, grace coolage, and she got to know the players very well and invited them to events at the white house and went to the wedding of bucky harris, who was the players' manager, and her husband who was more of a modest fan and did not know as much as she did -- a good example is in 1924 when the senators are playing in world series they are going to win, and it's game one and they are tied against the giants, and that's when president coolidge decides it's good to go back to the white house, and she says, no we're not, and she grabs him by the coattails and sits him back down, and it went 12 innings. the senators went on to loss but went on to win the southern game. she adopted the boston red sox and into the 1950s was telling
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friends that baseball was her life. she might be our biggest fan. people will also associate the second president bush with baseball having been an owner of the texas rangers from 1989 to 1998, and the image that we have here in our display is of him throwing out a pitch shortly after 9/11 in the 2001 world series, and he was wearing a new york fire department jacket and because the country had known of bush's baseball associations and here he was making this appearance in yankee stadium in new york which, just suffered from the devastating attacks, it really was a unifying moment and it was probably one of the few times people outside of new york actually rooted for the new york yankees to win.
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herbert hoover was not a sports fan but recognized the importance of baseball in everyday life, and he said next to religion baseball has furnished a greater impact on american life than any other institution, and he realized in the early days and darkest days of the depression, baseball was something that americans could look to for some relief, could look to for some entertainment during very difficult times, and i think it's interesting that even for somebody who was not a sports fan, he could recognize the power that sport had as being kind of a national balmy affect for people. another feature of being at the ballpark, of course, is having the cuisine, which is like having a hot dog, which is the most popular cuisine sold at parks. we have a picture showing a hot
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dog vendor outside the field in 1920, but when it really became popular were the cities of the association, and those teams were located in cincinnati, and they brought with them a popular handheld treat, the hot dog. it was easy to produce and easy to grill and easy to carry around, and that made it a really popular item to sell at the ball parks. so not only did german immigrants introduce the hot dog to baseball, but waves of immigrants that came to this country adopted baseball as their own sport and used it as a way to become americans, and so in the next case we will see more of the immigrant story in baseball.
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this case is about the promise of baseball, about the immigrant experience, how baseball was a path to prosperity for a lot of immigrant groups. it was a way to find your american identity as a player or as a fan. the idea also is, if you're following a team, whether you're a blair or not, if you're following a team, if you're learning the rules, you are actually taking steps in becoming an american because you're becoming part of the national sport, and if you have an understanding of the national sport, how can you not be an american then. we start off actually here with what's considered the first baseball sports auto biography. this was by mike king kelly who was also baseball's first celebrity. it's a collection of anecdotes and talking about what it's actually like to play in the major leagues, sharing the experience of someone with an irish american background. the irish americans were absolutely prominent, among the most dominant players in the 19th century. you also have a lot of english and german american players, probably lou gehrig is a good example of someone whose parents, coming from germany,
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were very opposed to him playing baseball at first. they felt like he had gotten educated at columbia to develop an important profession and playing baseball was not what they had in mind. but eventually they did warm up to it and realized that -- what a fantastic player and superstar he could be. we have here a song, the original sheet music, i can't get to first base with you, in which the lyrics were co-written by lou gehrig's wife. this did not sell particularly well. this is just part of our massive baseball song collection. we have probably the largest collection of baseball music in the country. at the time, this is towards the end of the tin pan alley era which is a period where up to 18 baseball songs a year were being produced. it's not too surprising that mrs. gehrig would actually take a stab at song writing.
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we also have examples of jewish players in these baseball cards here. jim thorpe, there were about 47 american indians who played in the major leagues before world war ii. he was perhaps one of the best known. latinos and latin american immigrants have had a huge impact in baseball. what's interesting with this little book over here, this spalding guide, this was a spanish american edition -- spanish english edition put out which covers all the cuban leagues, the most important league in latin america at the time. up above we have an image of minnie minoso, one of the later wave of cube an players. what happened in the first wave is those were all white players. by the time you get to the 1950, after jackie robinson and the major leagues are looking at the caribbean as a major source of talent, they're not only looking at white players. minnie minoso goes on to become
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quite a star. this was taken in 1958 when he returned home to cuba and opened up a little league season. we've included this picture of fernando valenzuela on the cover of "sports illustrated," in part because of the title "making his way in the usa." the idea was that he's been with the dodgers for five years now, and he's just now settling in and has a better command of english, and he doesn't become a citizen for a number of years later, but he's part of a whole process that is happening in los angeles at the time, and there's a lot of discussion in 1980s in los angeles about immigration reform and there's a very large hispanic community.
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fernando and fernando mania really take over los angeles. you get to the point that now torques day, about a third or so of the dodger fan base is hispanic. there's just no underestimating the importance that that's had in major league baseball. some other things we have here, this really interesting image that ansel adams took at mans far in world war ii. he donated these negatives to the library afterwards. he was documenting what was going on in the internment camps where japanese americans were being held. here we have this image of a game going on in these very bleak, desolate areas here. we've paired it with a book called "baseball saved us." it shows kids playing in the internment camps. it was written by the son of parents who were interned. he's talking about how the unit of playing at the national game,
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alleviating boredom, being part of the national life even though they were incarcerated was such an important part to their survival. as it turns out, there were actually a couple of players who were held in internment camps who had chances to be scouted by the brooklyn dodgers. it's an interesting pairing about how baseball was playing such an important role in such a difficult time when people who were being suspected of being anti american could not have been more american. in this case we're talking about the business of baseball. as any fan who has followed the sports pages over the many decades knows, the business of baseball is just as much as part of the game as the actual scores themselves and the statistics. here we have a contract from the western league, which is a major league, 1892. this includes the very dense legalese language that players would fight against for the next century, the reserve clause which was language that baseball incorporated in all of its contracts.
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it kept a player bound to his team for life. so unless he was traded or sold to another team, he could not offer his services to another team. he was owned by -- owned by his club. the reserve clause is that his team reserved all rights to him as a player. so the way players challenged the reserve clause, the first big attempt was in 1890 with the players league which was founded by john montgomery ward. john montgomery ward was also the president of the first serious attempt at a players union. when the players league imploded, there was another attempt in 1914 and 1915 for a federal league, where players would share in some of the ownership and receive greater payment that way. here we have an image of teams from the 1914 season celebrating. they were playing in major league ball parks and they simply were not able to draw the same numbers of fans as the
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established american league and national league, and eventually they imploded after two seasons. but the idea was, by having these unions and trying to establish their own league, the players could control their own destiny and could control how much money they made. what we also have in this case is an agreement that babe ruth signed that, in addition to receiving his regular salary he would receive an extra $5,000 for playing exhibition games and get $50 for every home run he hit. by having some of these incentive agreements, players that had marked themselves as superstars or super valuable to the club could add to their salary in that way. in babe's case, even though he was making more money than anyone else, at one point $80,000 a year, this was a way to keep him happy on the part of management. we have his shoes here. the reason was we wanted to
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include something that gave you more of a sense of what was the person. it was in these shoes that he trotted around the bases, part of his 714 trips around for home runs. we also have an image of him here outside the white house all reserve clause with some bonus money that the yankees are happy to pay him. this book by curt flood which came out in 1971 told the story of his fight against the reserve clause. what happens with curt flood, who is playing for the st. louis cardinals is that he is traded to the philadelphia phillies. he's not happy about that for several reasons. everything from the fact that he's established in st. louis. he thinks the phillies are a poor club. he's not crazy about their stadium. he's got a lot of reasons. so he fights this trade, and he
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takes his case all the way to the supreme court that he should have some say in what happens to him as a player. and the supreme court rules against him. shortly after that, though, there are a couple of loopholes that occur that allow the free agency system to break wide open. and what you have in 1974 is catfish hunter, who is playing for the oakland as. his owner violates the contract. and that virtually releases him from his obligation. and so instead of playing for $200,000 with the oakland as, he signs with the new york yankees for $3.5 million. bop dylan then writes a song about this "catfish" and we have the sheet music here. what he talks about is how a country boy can a great arm suddenly is making millions of dollars as a professional baseball player. the following year, 1975, there are two pitchers who refuse to sign their contracts.
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they play the next year with unsigned contracts. and they claim at the end of the season that because they have done that, they are no longer bound to their teams. an arbitrator agrees with them. what you see happening after that is with the breakdown of the reserve clause, players' salaries are going to double, triple, quadruple. and eventually, the players association agrees to a modest form of the reserve clause. a player has to put in six years as a professional before he can then negotiate as a free agent. and we have a list here. showing the highest paid players for various seasons. you can see that after 1975, there is a rapid increase in the amount of money that players were receiving. it took a long time to go from the highest paid player in 1876 making $4,000 until you got to willie mays in 1963, making over $100,000. but what happens after 1975 is
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that, rapidly, players are becoming multimillionaires. so we move from nolan ryan making a million dollars a year in 1980 to mike trout with the los angeles angels making $34 million in 2018. on this section, on the art and science of baseball we are looking at the measure of the game, the different ways that people over time have tried to calculate and estimate and figure what kinds of players they needed, where to put them in the lineup, where to put them in the field. so that's all been by various ways. scouting reports is one of the most traditional ways. we have scouting reports by branch ricky from the '50s and '60s. dom dries detail who was an 18-year-old pitching phenom at the time. there is written analysis here. ricky also did a mid-career
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report on hank aaron, already an established power hitter. he has given him about a prar on here. but we have at the library more than 1700 scouting reports that branch ricky did. she is shed some light into what a scout is looking for before they were able to crunch a lot of numbers. another way that baseball has looked at things is through spray charts. probably one of the best example is whitey herzog who when he was manager of the cardinals kept charts for all opposition players. this one is eddie murray w the dodgers. what he has done here is any time murray was at bat against him he kept notes on the rnz and used colored pencils representing each of his opinioners to see how murray did against them. with that, he was able to set up the defense and figured which pitcher to go against murray. the eddie murray spray chart
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covers a couple of seasons, this is from '88 to 1990. all of this information, of course, is stuff that kind of comes out in some form through this game stratomattic which was hugely popular when it first came out in the the '60s. it's kind of the forerunner for fantasy baseball actually where you are able to pick your own players, pick your own teams based on how they perform. what you had with stratomattic here was a game that was updated every year with cards showing statistics of the players from the previous year. then you built your own time. with a roll of the dice the game proceeded. so many players and so many people in the front office of different baseball franchises used stratomattic when they were kids to learn the ins and outs of managing a game, managing a team. during the 1981 baseball strike, in fact, a number of newspapers used stratomattic to figure out how some of the games might have
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proceeded that had been canceled. here we have got from the washington nationals this original lineup card. this is from april 28th, 2012, against the dodgers. it's the first time that bryce harper appears, as a rookie. and you are using statistics, of course, to figure out the best way the line up your players. harper, who nowadays is often seen in the number three or number four batting slots was put in at number seven to take a little pressure off him because it's his first game. what the batting lineup shows you here is the culmination of bringing together all of these statistics and data and figuring out the best way to put your men in lineup. another aspect of keeping track of statistics is that those were the sorts of things that were featured on the backs of baseball cards. so we have over in another case a selection of baseball cards were the 19th century up until
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recently. and one of the things that i have liked pointing out to people is with these baseball cards is that when you look at the early ones from the 19th century, how sparse the statistics are. and then as you move along, you know, you get to the 1965 card of clemente and aaron and mays -- all they are looking at there is batting averages. but when you finally get to miguel cabrera, this thing is chock full of statistics. and so you are seeing through the backs of baseball cards this accumulation of data and this incredible increase in what's being kept track of compared to what -- when baseball was first starting out with those early ards. call of these baseball cards we have here are original, including the one from 19 33 with babe ruth. has a bland biography of him on back. you can get the sense that they haven't yet crunched all of the numbers that they are eventually going to put on the back of a baseball card.
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even as early as the 1850s, which he box scores were being developed and henry chadwick was popularizing the use of box scores. there was an idea that players were becoming too obsessed with their own stats. it was already becoming a problem then. it continued of course to become more of an issue after players earned the right to negotiate their own contracts. the concern with keeping stats was that players were playing for themselves and not for the team in order to bump up their numbers. one of the big developments of course in statistics has been the advent of the society for american baseball research, saber. they have developed what is now known as saber metrics, which is a series of very complex and interesting calculations, finding out things like do catchers have a higher or lower batting average after they have appeared on base earlier in the
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game, and therefore might be more tired? i mean that's an astonishing statistic. alan roth, who worked for branch ricky in the 1940s and 1950s, came up with some incredibly complex statistics. but he anticipated a couple of things, including on-base percentage, the importance of that, which billy bean would later take to the nth degree with the oakland as and also the idea of wins above replacement, w.a.r. how valuable is a player across the course of a season? not just what is he doing across each and every game but how many games is he winning for you across the season. there are so many categories, you no longer simply have a of the abouting average next to a player, you have a slash line on
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which you feature a number of statistics. separate-o-matic is no longer just a board game. people are now playing it on their smart phones. and they are able to crunch numbers and they are able to get the latest information right away. here's the library of congress. we have got more than 167 million items. only a few of those relating to baseball are on display. so if you are in washington, be sure to come by and see what america's library has for you. >> you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website troe. >> weeknights this month, we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight an evening of african-american history. civil rights activist cleveland sellers talks about his work in the 1960s as a national leader
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with the student non-violent coordinating committee and recounts the 1968 orange view massacre. three students were killed and mr. sellers was among the nearly 30 wounded. former charleston south carolina mayer riley conducts the interview at the citadel where he is now a professor. watch tonight againing at 8:00 p.m. eastern. and watch american history tv every weekend on c-span3. ♪♪
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gordon edes is the historian of the boston red sox. he led a discussion about the team's home front and battlefield contributions during world war ii. threw the stories of hall of famer ted williams and others they give insight into the athletes training, combat experience, and reception when they returned home. this discussion was hosted by the massachusetts historical society, which provided the video. >> today we have a great program which we will explore one of the most popular topics in boston which is the boston red sox. specifically this evening we will on looking at the boston red sox and world war ii. he will be joined by a great panel which will be led by a good friends of mhs, gordon edes. this is his fifth program with mhs in the last couple of years. he has been doing a lot of work supporting our organization. gordon is the official historian of the boston red sox, he


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