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| Baseball and American Character Essay

In the article: “Why Baseball was our National Game.” ,the historical growth and developments experienced in the United States pursued a similar channel thatwas experienced in other modern cities across the globe. Furthermore, America could not overlook the superiority of immense laws of transition thattransformed feudalistic societies into capitalistic communities in that matter.The notion “only in America” was brought down in the 18th century when black immigrants invaded the country, thus diluting whiter shades overwhelmed with “deism of American enlightenment” (Guttmann 1). Notwithstanding, efforts were made by the American society to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world, specifically, from the Englishmen. This need to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world brought about the development of “exceptional” characters in novels as well as other literary materials.

For instance, in the literary piece “History of the United States”, Bancroft presented distinctive views about the true nature of the American society: it was developed by God to showcaseto the world necessary attributes for both moral and political insurgence within freed economies. In yet another literary piece writtenby Frederick, the aspect of “American Exceptionalism” is further instigated to portray the American democracy as the true fruits of theleading edge. Within this leading age, the outdated and self-inflicted European |s werediscarded and replaced with true reflections of an exceptional American personality. In aneffort to describe the “American Personality”, Hartz developed an exceptional environment inwhich he described the character as the one developed out of the liberal society that had nurtured tradition and allowed to grow in the absence of feudal forms of institutions.Inthe literary eyes of Tocqueville, Americans were “born equal”, and with that perception they won their freedom in a rather simple manner in comparison with other colonies. Americans were also considered to be onfair terms with their colonists, which made “Atlantic civilization” much easier to develop (Guttmann 3-4).

Sport as a Philosophical Game:

Sport is anapproach taken by philosophers to try and understand the origins of the peculiar nature of the exceptional “American character”. Baseball is considered to be the most popular sport in the United States. It is the unique identity of the American character. Thus, it presents a formidable ground to argue the aforementioned issue of “Exceptionalism”. In his approachaimed at disregarding the origins of baseball as a frontier sport in the American setting, Guttmann (4) relinquishes it as being less unique in respect to other forms of sport in the contemporary society.However, he affirms several reasons behind the popularity of the sport in the United States of America. First, the American character is perceived to befit the conditions as well as pre-suppositions necessary for the flourishing of the “national game”. The game seems to fit well both the temperament and outlook of the “exceptional American character”. As a core initiator of the baseball’s popularity within the American society, assumptions are put forth toexplain the assertion that the society availed the spread of the game amongits people more than it was done for othergames likebasketball and football. Technology is yet another aspect thatis perceived to have catapulted positive transformation of the sport in the sense that it received massive changes in the manner it was conducted. Such technological tools as Radio and Television are perceived toincrease the number of potential spectators for baseball just like any other sport practiced across the globe. According to Guttmann (5), baseball has benefited from technology just like any other sport and for that reason it cannot be derived that it was initially ingrained within the American society. In the case of pre-Television technology, Guttmann (5) retorts that football unlike baseball benefitted largely from this technology since there were no inherent traits in baseball that could distort the competition.

The dominance of the sport is also attributed to such elements as nostalgia and “the worship formulated for heroes”. The author agrees on the: “folk hero facet’ but does not pay tribute to it as the reason behind itssuccess in the U.S.because of the assumption that these “folk heroes have proven” to be unnoticeable whenever they were out of the field and thusout of uniform. This assumption does not contributeto the notion of the popularity of the game since the aforementioned heroes were viewed more asbenefactors than pioneers of the game. However, the author does believe that nostalgia could in one way or another affect positively the popularity of the game. He assumes that older people within the society continue to evoke the spirit of the game in aneffort to bond with your youth. According to Guttman (6), circumstances allowed the flourishing of the nostalgic aspect of baseball’s popularity in the sense that it allowed players intheir forties to play the game without such commitments as physical activities. In that sense, Guttman comes to the assumption that it is baseball’s attraction to the people which brings forth the elements of nostalgia.

In an effort to understand the greater popularity of the game, Guttman (6) deduces two facets thatare the immediate position of the game of baseball in the cycle of seasons as well as the tendency of the game in respect to quantification matters.

In the case of the position of baseball in relation to the cycle of seasons, the matter pertaining to pastoralist is ascertained and its influence considered being the core driver of the vast participation of rural players in the game as a whole. This is, in turn, reflected by alarger number of players from rural areas in the first “National League” in 1897. Baseball flourishes fairly in an open field with tall grass and favorable terrain: whenever played, the game should assume an inexplicable element of harmony. It is a game of the cycle of seasons since it used to commence in spring and end in winter. Consequently, it was largely attributed to the vegetation gods. This aspect is manifested in the course of play since the game does not assume time restrictions. It is evidently clear that Guttman (7) affirms the pastoral influence of the game whenever he symbolizes four bats of the game andfour seasons experienced in the United States.

Quantification Aspect of Baseball:

Within the quantification aspect while expounding on the popularity of baseball, Guttmann (8) predisposes the assumption that the sport continues to experience intense distinctions from modern sports. Itis largely attributed to such facets as secularism, through which the author gives credit in an equal measure toother sports likefootball and soccer. The aspect of secularism is associated with free willpower or democracy thatplayers enjoy while performing their respective tasks. There arealso elements of specialty and rationalization of the game, which asserts larger differences exhibited in the manner the game is played in relation to others. Furthermore, the game is perceived to be apioneer of bureaucratic sporting events in the American society in the sense that players were paid for their participation in the game. The level of quantification within the game structures was further made possible with the invention of scoreboards as well as tabular form of listings reflecting team standings.Itfacilitated the interest tothe game through statistics as the game allowed conducting simple arithmetic calculations in a relaxation mode. The flow of time hasallowed fans to perform relevant mathematical calculations within a span of limited time. This aspect is considered to be a total bore to the European society but an element of excitement and satisfaction to the American spectatorof the game. Quantification aspect also assists in bringing forththe records of players. This aspect seems to conform to the love for numbers in the context of the game since players are characterized by their respective number inrecords of the league.Notably, the game is believedto have existed because of the ease with which the American society embraced the spirit of industrialization and democracy thatfacilitated secularism as a whole (Guttman 8-9).

In the article “Football red and Baseball green”, Ross (10) affirms several aspects that have contributed to the uniqueness of the game within the American society. Myth is considered to be one of the elements that drive the popularity of the game.Such phenomena as successful industrialization; faster grasping pace as well as fair playing conditions are depicted to be the supporting facets ofthe prowess of the game in the United States. According to the author, the game is a pastoral sport that establishes immense harmony. The sport is attributed to possess the nostalgic effect since it evokes the artificial rural setting common for most urban dwellers. Baseball relates to the pastoral aspect since it conforms to the assertions of communicating with nature.It is evident whenevervictoriesare associated withthose teams thatrelate fairly with the playing field and in a manner thatallows players to hit the ball in right places of the field (nature).

American Traditional Belief in Respect to the Game:

The game is also compared with the traditional aspect of the American belief inthe manner the game is arranged on the playing field. Within the American traditional belief, there lies the assertion that danger is mostly increases whenever distance is equally increased. The aforementioned distance isan attribute of anoutfielder. Time factor is an element ofthe sport that facilitates both the element of pastoralists as well as the traditional American belief. Time is connected withpastoralists in the sense that it allows immediate change of four season cyclesof the American calendar, which advocates for normal farming operations (Ross 12). Thus, baseball exists within the society to counter arather persistent struggle as well as change presentin the modern world. Time is connected withthe traditions of the American society in the sense that it allows minute forms of rituals to be observed in the course of play. Such rituals as shortstop kicks as well as umpires are deemed necessary for the prevalence of the sport.The game is nostalgic in nature meaning that it evokes the past of both spectators as well as players. The nostalgia is evoked by the serenity of the environment as well as relentless rituals witnessed in the course of play. Nostalgia also evokes the spirit of desire for democracy as it is evident through the fight for tranquility and determined contentment (Ross 12).

Unlike football, baseball lacks the element of heroism since players are dispossessed in their images. It is a notable argument against the prowess of baseball in the author’s opinion. For instance, the author compares Ruth’ to James Brown’ physique,the latter translating into a masculinity figure thatportrays power and zest. In that case, football players are transformed into gods as superlatives are the word formsthat describe their innate superhuman forms. Baseball provides a fair platform for the immediate connection between players and spectators because of its pastoral capability.It is associated with hard work, luck and talent. There is also the quantification aspect about the game, which makes it subtle forthe American society since outdoor calculations are performed to gather relevant statistics necessary for evaluation of the game.Technology does not seem to catapult the level of success attributed to baseball as it is with other games since it was mainly suspected that it deterred the real zeal of the game.

Traditional Aspect of the Game:

In the article “Baseball: the remembrance of things past”, Mandelbaum (14) compares the popularity of baseball withthe traditional aspect of clocks as the gamedespised the time limitations. Itis an aspect thatis compared withrhythmic capability of nature, i.e. the rotation of the earth through which planting and harvesting seasons are depicted. The space where the game was initially played was ina rural setting thatreproduced agricultural life witnessed by vast fields and crop farming.Itis made evident by the prowess of watchful and attentive batters who also happento gather relevant information about their respective opponents in that matter.

Like in a traditional setting where scarcity is the order of the day, scoreboards for baseball games reflect finite scores. It is evidently impossible to score in baseball as it is hard to find readily available food in the traditional society. This aspect cultivates the virtue of accepting failure as well as increases the emotional capacity of the players. Furthermore, baseball is compared to diseases that were rampant in the traditional society in the sense that it distinguishes the precision needed to play proficiently. Superstition is also evident in baseball games as both players and spectators shun from activities thatshould inhibit fair results,for example the mode of dressing among players on the whole (Mandelbaum 18).

Another traditional aspect of baseball that has survived the transformation of the society into modern times is the form of tools used in playing the game. Unlike other sports, baseball has managed to keep up with its traditional tools of bats and leather gloves used to catch the ball. These tools are also handmade just like in the traditional society where machines were not present.Just like in the traditional setting in which hunting and fishing required prowess skills ofpatience and listening, baseball players assimilate these aspects into the game.


In baseball, each and every member plays individually forthe success of the game. They are held responsible for both failures and successes of their respective team. According to Mandelbaum (19), the individual aspect of the game propels the level of heroism in baseball heroes as compared to football ones since players are assessed individually and meager or fair results are included into their biographies.

Points of Agreements

In all required reading articles, authors seem to agree on such aspects as the contribution of the pastoralists to the sport, the nostalgic effect that evokes childhood memories, quantification of the game statistics, and time factor. There is also conformity in the facet of the game-setting whereby the game was initially played in the fields and within the boundaries of an open-space. For the facet concerning pastoralists, the authors have made it possible that illustrations are fairly provided.

For instance, Guttman (5) postulates that the game is conversant with American character and culture. It has gained popularity since most of the American people engaged in playing it: “If every American has played baseball, or at least softball, it is because our culture has made this inevitable, not because baseballs cost less than foot-balls”. Baseball also fits in with the American weather which is characterized by open space, grass, warm weather as well as a brighter sun. This form of atmosphere is a positive ambivalence for playing baseball: “it creates an atmosphere in which everything exists in harmony” (Guttman 7). In terms of nostalgia, the authors agree that baseball reminds them of their childhood times when they used to play the game. It should be noted that nostalgia is brought into effect whenever spectators are made to connect to the game in the course of play.

Points of Disagreements

There are disagreements about the effects of technology on the popularity of the game. Unlike Mandelbaum and Ross, Guttman refutes the claim that baseball has enjoyed an overriding success in technology as compared to football.There is also a point of disagreement in the case of the heroism of the sport. Guttman and Mandelbaum affirm to the assertion that baseball players enjoy the aspect of heroism as compared to their counterparts – football players. As for my point of view, I think that the disagreements in respect to heroism are brought about by the fact that baseball is a game which connects players and fans: it does not put their roles out of reach. Furthermore, the fact that the baseball player is made to work hard individually for the purpose of meeting the overall goal of the team makes them to stand-out in a personal capacity. Football players are developed into “small gods” which makes it hard for the majority of the fans to identify with. This, in turn, reduces their heroism capability.

Personal Reflection:

Personally, I tend to agree with the argument that baseball heroes are far-the-most beneficiaries since quantification as well as the manner of the game play allows them to achieve immense success. The fact that spectators can quantify the contribution of each and every player asserts that they can be easily gauged. The ability to measure contributions of each and every player is made possible by the simplicity of calculations involved in determining the fair statistics of the baseball players. Furthermore, I do also conform to the perception that the origins of baseball were brought about as a result of the American form of weather. This feature is reflected on the cycle of seasons upon which the game is played. It starts in spring and wraps-up towards winter. The fact that the schedule of the game has been altered over a period of time does not necessary mean that its roots has been relinquished.

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