Discuss the rise of baseball in the second half of the 19th century. Who played baseball? Who watched it? How respectable was it?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the most part, baseball in the late 1800s was located out East.  In particular, New York.  Most of those in the tri state area were privy to enjoying some type of professional baseball.  While the first professional team was located in Cincinnati, for the most part, teams were out East and then moved with "West" being defined as Chicago.  As previously noted, with the transcontinental railroad, the game spread out to what is now known as "the West."  In terms of its respectability, it was seen as a game enjoyed by the public, but for only the White public, as African- American ball players were barred and experienced discrimination, leading to the formation of the Negro Leagues.  Any respectability, in my mind, would have to be tempered by the fact that discrimination was a distinct part of the national past time.

geosc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first half to the 19th century, baseball was played in vacant lots and cow pastures.  There were teams in large cities.  I think members bought memberships on the teams just as people nowadays buy memberships in country clubs.  They did not travel to other cities for games.

Then came the railroad.  Only a few months after the completion of the first transcontinental railroad (1869?), a baseball team (from Ohio I think) toured the United States, including San Francisco.  Railroads made it possible for a large number of people from a dispersed area to collect at a stadium to watch a baseball game, then go back home again for supper and bedtime.

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