Baseball's Role in American History

Laura Lee
Mar 01, 2023

An American family tradition is playing baseball. The Game has a very personal connection to Americans, but you might not be aware of how much it also has to do with history. Baseball has played a significant part in the development of our country and is frequently referred to as America’s National Pastime. The sport of baseball supports and reflects many facets of American society, from culture to economics and technical advancements, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and all points in between and beyond. Movements are sparked by it, and it also instills pride and even cures cities.

In the aftermath of a young nation’s worst moments, the first professional baseball games were played. But the amateur version dates back decades, far before the conflict ever started. When Civil War troops on both sides played baseball as a distraction, the sport had already become well-known and was being referred to as a frenzy by reporters in the 1840s.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American baseball player to play in the major leagues. He rose to prominence as a symbol of equality during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and helped baseball lead the way in racial unification. In the 1960s and 1970s, Hank Aaron made history as a representation of the advancement of African Americans.

Baseball has always provided entertainment, but it has also brought people solace through trying times. Just seven weeks after the 9/11 disaster, President George W. Bush demonstrated the fortitude of the country by throwing out the first pitch in Game 3 of the World Series in New York City. These and other instances, in which baseball and American culture profoundly interacted, are documented at the Museum.