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To counter the game’s reputation for rowdiness, baseball promoters took pains to encourage women to attend.“The presence of an assemblage of ladies purifies the moral atmosphere of a baseball gathering,” reported the , “repressing as it does, all the out-burst of intemperate language which the excitement of a contest so frequently induces.” When women played on barnstorming teams in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, the press routinely referred to them as “Amazons,” “freaks,” or “frauds.” In 1943, during World War II, when it was feared that professional baseball might be forced to close down, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League made its debut.It provided, in the perceptive words of British novelist Virginia Woolf, “a centre, a meeting place for the divers activities of a people whom a vast continent isolates [and] whom no tradition controls.” No matter where one lived, the “hit-and-run,” the “double play,” and the “sacrifice bunt” were carried out the same way.The unifying power of baseball in the United States was evident in the Depression-ravaged 1930s, when a group of Cooperstown’s businessmen along with officials from the major leagues established the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.Just as the English had cricket and the Germans their turnvereins (gymnastic clubs), a sporting newspaper declared as early as 1857 that Americans should have a “game that could be termed a ‘Native American Sport.’ ” A powerful confirmation of baseball as the sport to fill that need came in 1907 when a special commission appointed by A. Spalding, a sporting goods magnate who had formerly been a star pitcher and an executive with a baseball team, reported that baseball owed absolutely nothing to England and the children’s game of rounders.Instead, the commission claimed that, to the best of its knowledge (a knowledge based on flimsy research and self-serving logic), baseball had been invented by In a country comprising a multiplicity of ethnic and religious groups, one without a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a long and mythic past, the experience of playing, watching, and talking about baseball games became one of the nation’s great common denominators.

Playing and watching baseball contests also strengthened occupational, ethnic, and racial identities.United States is credited with developing several popular sports, including some (such as baseball, gridiron football, and basketball) that have large fan bases and, to varying degrees, have been adopted internationally.But baseball, despite the spread of the game throughout the globe and the growing influence of Asian and Latin American leagues and players, is the sport that Americans still recognize as their “national pastime.” The game has long been woven into the fabric of American life and identity.players each on a field with four white bases laid out in a diamond (i.e., a square oriented so that its diagonal line is vertical).Teams alternate positions as batters (offense) and fielders (defense), exchanging places when three members of the batting team are “put out.” As batters, players try to hit the ball out of the reach of the fielding team and make a complete circuit around the bases for a “run.” The team that scores the most runs in nine innings (times at bat) wins the game.

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