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tv   American Artifacts Baseball in America - Origins of the Modern Game  CSPAN  August 6, 2021 5:33pm-6:03pm EDT

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york times" focused on john gun there in a book called "inside usa" in gotling's opinion gunther was probably the best reporter america ever had, unquote. we wanted to find out more so talked with ken kuth b erson and talked about his 1992 book. each week american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. 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 including the
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birth of several baseball traditions, the impact of immigrants and the increasing importance of statistics. >> welcome to the library of congress. i'm susan rayburn, curator of the exhibition baseball americana. this was a collaboration the library did with major league baseball, espn and the baseball hall of fame in coopers ton town, and today we're going to look at the second half of the exhibition which looks at baseball thematicly including the experience at the ballpark, the business of baseball, how immigrants and immigration have affected baseball and the art and science of winning. so this is our section on "at the ballpark." and what we have here is an original fire insurance map. and what this shows is d.c.'s original baseball stadium, the griffith stadium, was really in the heart of the urban
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community. you can see that it's next to a number of businesses and residences. we've got a college of dentistry, a hospital and a lot of fans would gather late in the day to sit on the roofs and watch a game of baseball. 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 the midst of their community. they're not out in some idyllic pasture as we kind of think of that with early baseball. this map was updated in the early 20th century. another thing we're talking about here are the customs and rituals fans experience at the ballpark. everything from keeping score. here we've got a hand written scorecard from the first game between the yankees and giants. keeping score is an unusual aspect of baseball in that fans will usually or often keep score in ways they don't do for other sports. everyone seems to develop their
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own style based on a demplate they learned and another ritual of course is singing take me out to the ball game. this is original sheet music cover from 1908 when the son came out and with words by jack north who claimed he had never seen a baseball game before he started writing it. it captures a lot of sentiment in what you do at a baseball game. what most people aren't aware of is we only sing a small portion of the song althe games. we only sing the chorus. much of the song is about a woman named katey casey who wants to go to a ball game rather than go see a show or do something else with her date. so she asks to be taken to the game. she wants to lead her friend in the cheers and she was actually based on this woman who you see on the left who was a suffragette in this period. he based his character on a woman he was seeing. he divorced his wife. he was about to marry trixy when
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he abruptly canceled plans and instead ran off and married norma bays here, and she co-wrote with him let's get the empires goat. so we've got a little bit of a love triangle here associated with take me out to the ball game. the song eventually kind of faded into memory, and it wasn't
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until the 1970s that the announcer began singing the number during the seventh inning stretch. other teams adopted it, and now you'll find it at almost every major game. there was a long period of time where it disappeared and then it had a rediscovery many years later. presidents have been associated with baseball for virtually the entire 20th century. you go back to 1910 and you have president taft throwing out an opening pitch at griffith stadium for the washington senators and he sets off a presidential transition where every president except for the current occupant has thrown out a first pitch for opening day, all-star day, world series, some event like that. it's a tradition that goes back to the 1880s of having celebrities or governors throw out the opening pitch. but the person who was probably the biggest fan in the white house was the first lady, grace coolidge. and she became devoted today the washington senators. she got to know the players very well, invited them to events at the white house, even went to the wedding of bucky harris who was the player manager. and her husband was more of a modest fan and didn't know as much as she did. a good example would be in 1924 when senators are playing in the one world series they're going to win. it's game one. the game is tied 2-2 in the ninth inning against the giants. and that's when president coolidge decides it's good to get up and go back to the white house and she says no, we're
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not. and she grabs him by the coattails and they sit down and it went to 12 innings. unfortunately the senators lost but they went onto win the series in seven games. she continued to be a lifelong fan. she followed games on radio when she and her husband moved away back to washington and new england and into the 1950s was telling friends baseball was her life. people also associate the second president bush with baseball having been an owner of the texas rangers from 1989 to 1998. and the image 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
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stadium in new york, which had just suffered from these devastating attacks, it really was a unifying moment. and it was probably one of the few times that people outside of new york have actually rooted for the new york yankees to win. herbert hoover who was not particularly a sports fan, he still recognized the importance of baseball and sport in american life. and something he said a variation of on several occasions was next to religion baseball has furnished a greater impact on american life than any other institution and he realized especially in the early days and darkest days of the great depression that baseball was something that americans could look to for some relief, could look to for some entertainment during some very difficult times, and i think it's interesting even for someone who was not a sports fan he could recognize the power that sport had as being kind of a national balming effect for
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people. another feature at being at the ballpark, of course, is having the cuisine including the hot dog which is the most popular item sold at ballparks all over the country. the tradition of having hot dogs at the game goes back to actually 1880s. we have a picture here that shows a hot dog vendor outside the field in 1920. but where it really became popular were cities that were part of the american association. those teams were located in st. louis, cincinnati, other places where there were large german immigrant populations. and they brought with them a popular handy hand held treat, the hot dog. it was easy to produce. it was easy to grill. it was easy to carry around. that made it a really popular item to sell at the ballparks. so not only did german immigrants introduce the hot dog
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to baseball but waves of immigrants that came to this country adopted baseball as their own sport, used it as a way to become americans. so in this next case we're going to see more of the immigrant story in baseball. 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 that if you're following a team whether you're a player 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 kin kelly who was also kind of baseball's first real celebrity. and it's a collection of antecdotes, sharing the experience of someone with an irish american background.
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and the irish americans were absolutely prominent among the most dominant players in the 19th century. you also had a lot of english and german-american players. probably lou gehrig is a good example of someone whose parents coming from germany 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 -- was not what they had in mind. but eventually they did warm up to it and realize 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 cowritten by lou gehrig's wife. and 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. and at the time this was towards the end of the tin-pan alley
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area, which was a period where up to 80 baseball songs a year were being produced. and so it's not too surprising garing would actually take a stab at song writing. we actually have jewish players in these baseball cards here. there were about 37 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. and what's interesting in this little book over here, this spaulding guide, this was a spanish-american edition, spanish-english edition put out and it publishes all the cuban leagues which was by far the most important league in latin america at the time. up above we have this image of mini miinosa, one of a later wave of cuban players. what had happened in the first wave is that those were all white players. by the time you get to the 1950s after jackie robinson and the
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major leagues are looking at the caribbean as the great source of talent, they're no longer only looking at white players. so mini muinosa goes onto become quite a star. this was taken in 1958 when he returned home to cuba to open up a little league season. we've included this picture from 1985 on the cover of sports illustrated in part because of the title, making his way in the this was taken in 1958 when he returned home to cuba to open up a little league season. we've included this picture from 1985 on the cover of sports illustrated in part because of the title, making his way in the usa, the idea that he's been with the dodgers for five years now but he's just now settling in. he's got a much better command of english. and he doesn't become a citizen for a number of years later. but he is part of a whole process that is happening in los angeles at the time, that there is a lot of discussion in 1980s
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los angeles about immigration reform. and there's a very large hispanic community the dodgers have had since 1959, a spanish language broadcaster. and fernando and fernando mania really take over los angeles. so you get to the point that now, today, about a third or so of the dodger fan base is hispanic. and there's just no underestimating the importance that's had in major league baseball. some other things we have here is a really interesting image took in world war ii. ancel adams took at ansnar in world war ii, he was documenting what was going
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on in the internment camps where japanese americans were being held. so here we have this image of a game going on in these very bleak desolate areas here, and we've paired it with a book called baseball saved us, and it shows kids playing in the internment camps. and it was written by the son of parents who were interned, and he is talking about how that unity of playing at the national game, of alleviating boredom, of being part of the national life even though they were incarcerated was such an important part to their survival. and 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 and it's just kind of 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. so in this case we're talking about the business of baseball. and as any fan who has followed the sports pages over the many decades knows the business of baseball is just as much a part of the game as the actual scores
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themselves and the statistics. here we have a contract from the western league which is a major league, 1892. and this includes the very dense legalese language players would fight against for the next century, the reserve clause that 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 -- by his club. and 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 through the federal league which was another
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major league that was established in which players would share in some of the ownership and would receive greater payment that way. here we have an image of teams from the 1914 season celebrating, but they were playing in major league ballparks, and they simply were not able to draw the same numbers of fans as the 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 leagues the players could control their own destiny, 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 he would get $50 for every home run that he hit. and by having some of these incentive agreements, players who had -- had marked themselves as superstars or especially
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valuable to the club could add to their salary in that way. and 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. and so we also have his shoes here. and the reason was we wanted to include something that gave you a little more sense of the person. and 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 dressed up. he's got his fur coat and driving cap on. and this is a guy who's making it in baseball, and he's finding a way around the reserve clause with some bonus money that the yankees are happy to pay him.
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that players were receiving. it took a long time to go from the highest paid player in 1876 until willie mays in 1963 making over a hundred thousand. what happens in 1975, rapidly players are becoming multimillionaires, to mike trout with the los angeles angels making $34 million in 2018. so in this section on the art and science of baseball, we're 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 a lineup, where to put them in the field. that's all been done by various
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ways. of course the scouting report is one of the most traditional ways. we have scouting reports here by branch rickey done in the 1950s and '60s. don drysdale, an 18-year-old young pitching phenom at the time, a five-paragraph analysis here. and then ricky also did a sort of mid-career report on hank aron, already an established power hitter. so he's only given him a paragraph on here. we have at the library more than 1,700 scouting reports that branch rickey did, shedding some light on what a scout is looking for before they were able to crunch a lot of numbers. another way baseball looked at things is through spray charts. one of the best examples is whitey herzog, who when he was a manager, kept charts of all the
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opposition players. every time eddie murray was up at bat against him, he kept notes on the right hand side but he also used colored pencils representing each of his pitchers to see how murray did against them. and with that he was able to figure out how to set up his defense and also to figure what pitcher should go against murray. the eddie murray spray chart covers a couple of season. 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 strat-o-matic which was hugely popular when it came out in the '60s, kind of the forerunner of fantasy baseball, you're able to pick your own players and teams based on how they perform. this was a game that was updated every year with cards showing statistics of players of the previous year. you built your own team and with
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a roll of the dice, the game proceeded. so many players and so many people in the front office of different baseball franchises used strat-o-matic when they were kids to learn the ins and outs of managing a team. during the 1981 baseball strike a number of newspapers used it to figure out how some of the games might have proceeded that had been canceled. here we have from the washington nationals this original lineup card from april 28, 2012, against the dodgers. it's the first time that bryce harper appears as a rookie. and you're using statistics, of course, to figure out the best way to line up your players. harper, who nowadays is often seen in the number 3 or number 4 batting slots, was put in at number 7 to take a little pressure off him because it was his first game. but what the batting lineup shows you here is the culmination of bringing together all of these bits of statistics
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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 sort of things that were featured on the backs of baseball cards. and so we have over in another case a selection of baseball cards from the 19th century up until recently. and one of the things that i have liked pointing out to people is with these baseball cards, when you look at the early ones from the 19th century, how sparse the statistics are, and as you move along you get to the 1965 card of clemente, aaron, and mays, they're looking at batting averages. when you get to miguel cabrera, this thing is chock-full of statistics. so you're seeing through the backs of baseball cards this accumulation of data and this incredible increase in what's being kept track of compared to
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what -- you know, when baseball was first starting out with those early cards. all of these baseball cards we have here are original including the one from 1933 with babe ruth. it has a very bland biography of him on the back. so you can kind of get the sense that they haven't yet crunched all of the numbers they're going to eventually put on the back of a baseball card. even as early as the 1850s, when box scores were being developed, and henry chadwick was popularizing the use of box scores, statistics started to be kept. there was even concern among the owners of a number of teams later in the 1800s that players were becoming too obsessed with their own stats. that was already a problem then. and it only continued, of course, to get -- become more of an issue after players earned the right to negotiate their own contracts. and 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
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course, in statistics has been the advent of the society for american baseball research, sabre. they have developed what is now known as sabermetrics, a complex series of calculations, do catchers have a higher or lower batting average after they have appeared on base earlier in the game and therefore might be more tired? that's an astonishing, astonishing statistic. alan roth who worked for branch rickey 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 a's, and also the idea of wins above replacement, w.a.r. how available is a player over the course of a season, not just what is he doing in each and
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every game but how many games is he winning for you or counting for at the end of the season. but with sabermetrics and the work of bill james, who was a pioneer in developing baseball statistics, there are so many categories now that you no longer simply have a batting average next to a player. you now have a slash line in which you feature a number of statistics. one of the things that we see with stratomatic is it's no longer just a board game. people are now playing it on their smartphones. they're able to crunch numbers and get the latest information right away. so here at the library of congress we've got more than 167 million items and only a few of those relating to baseball are on display. so if you're 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
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any time by visiting our website, in june, robert gottlieb, the man who has been the final editor of all of robert caro's books, wrote an essay in "the new york times." the focus was on john gunther and the 900-page book he wrote called "inside usa." in gottlieb's opinion gunther was, quote, probably the best reporter america ever had, unquote. we wanted to find out more about this publishing success story so we called canadian freelance writer ken cuthbertson to talk to him about his 1992 book called "inside: the biography of john gunther." >> on this episode of "book notes plus."
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listen at or wherever you get your podcasts. boston red sox historian gordon edes led a discussion about the team's home front and battlefield contributions during world war ii through the stories of hall of famer ted williams and others. they give insight into the athletes' training, combat experience, and reception when they return home. this is hosted by the massachusetts historical society which provided the video. >> so today we have a great program which we'll explore one of the most popular topics in boston, which is the boston red sox. specifically we'll be looking at the boston red sox and world war ii. we'll be joined by a great panel which will be led by a good friend of mhs, gordon edes. he has been doing a lot of work supporting our organization. gordon is the official historian of the boston red sox. he has been the team


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