Where Does Baseball Fit In American Culture On This Fourth Of July?

Baseball is no longer the king of American sports.

It’s America’s 246th  birthday and there is a big question about America’s Pastime. Why are Major League Baseball owners changing rules? Because the times have changed and the new rules are  designed to make the game 21st century friendly. Baseball is doing fine financially but it doesn’t seem baseball is a national sport anymore rather it is a regional sport. At one time, The Fourth of July was baseball, apple pie, swimming and fireworks. Baseball was, Casey At The Bat, or Take Me Out to the Ballgame, as Katie Casey told her boyfriend I want to go to the ball game in the song. There was the Babe and the great DiMaggio who was lionized in the Old Man and the Sea classic book by Hemingway and Who’s on First. Joe DiMaggio would be revisited in song in Paul Simon’s classic Mrs. Robinson. Baseball players were in vaudeville, burlesque, in movies, and on radio and TV. In 1954, the French social commentator Jacques Barzun noted. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.”

There was a countdown to spring training and for certain Americans that was also the countdown to spring and the coming of warm weather. There was  the Fall Classic and the Hot Stove League. Opening Day was an event and it was the boys of summer. Baseball was omnipresent. Now sports seasons clash. Opening Day takes a back seat to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NFL Draft, the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals all competitors and NFL July training camps. There was always horse racing, summer golf and tennis tournaments but baseball until the 1960s was always at the top followed by boxing and horse racing. Meanwhile, Barzun rejected baseball by 2008, because it was “over commercialized.”

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Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com