The Representation of American Society in Baseball

The Representation
of American Society
in Baseball
How has baseball reflected
American society over the
course of the first half of
the 20 century?
Well--it's our game; that's
the chief fact in connection
with it: America's game; it
has the snap, go, fling of the
American atmosphere; it
belongs as much to our
institutions, fits into them as
significantly as our
Constitution's laws; is just as
important in the sum total of
our historic life.
Progressive Era
When Teddy Roosevelt became the 26th
president of the United States, his goal
was to change what had become of his
beloved nation
Roosevelt entered office at a time in
which the U.S. was already undergoing a
slight transformation
The Progressive Era, as it became
known, was a period of reform that
lasted from the 1890s through the
Progressive Era Movements
This era helped influence movements
such as:
Workers Rights
Social Justice
Settlement Houses
Social Gospel advocates
Education reform
Banking reform
Key Aspects of the Progressive Era
Hepburn Act of 1906
Gave the ICC the power to set maximum
railroad rates
Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902
Lasted 163 days
Organized labor celebrated the outcome as a
victory for all unions
Workers given a 10% pay increase and
awarded a nine-hour day
Square Deal
Program that curbed “bad” trusts and
encouraged “good” trusts
Immigration in the 1900s
During the 1900s many Jews, Italians, Asians (first
1/2 of the decade), and Russians entered America
The Role of Women
in the Progressive Era
Jane Addams
Ida Tarbell
Leader in both the women’s
suffrage and the pacifist
One of the leading muckrakers and
the author of The History of the
Standard Oil Company
Players Protective Association
Players Protective Association is founded in
Originated from the Brotherhood of
Professional Baseball players (1885)
One of the first unions created by players
who objected the reserve clause
 Forced players to stay with one team
at the owners disposal
Players had no say as to where they were
Byron Bancroft Johnson
Created the American
League in 1901, which
offered higher salaries and
better contract options
 Players like Cy Young,
John McGraw, and Nap
Lajoie jumped from the
National League
Cracked down on dirty play
and banned liquor from
Baseball was becoming a
more acceptable activity
Immigration and Baseball
Baseball was becoming a
reflection of the changing
ethnic composition of
Many European immigrants
became club owners due to
limited entrepreneurial
opportunities in a less risky
A number of Northern and
Eastern European
immigrants played on teams
as a means for social
Alta Weiss
First Woman to Play Professional Baseball
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
Jack Norworth
A New World Power
The 1910s were a period of great change for the
United States
Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive mindset,
the US was finally known as a ‘world power’
Many of the same issues found in the 1900s were
still present, including:
Escalation of immigration and poverty
Labor and monopoly battles
Work safety and child labor problems
Unfortunately, this seemingly positive decade
ended with the US involved in the first world war
Woodrow Wilson
In 1914, Wilson created the federal trade
 The purpose of the FTC was to stop unfair trade
In addition, President Wilson passed the Clayton
Antitrust Act in 1914
 According to Samuel Gompers, leader of the
American Federation of Labor, this act was the
Magna Carta of labor
 This act made certain business practices illegal
and made individual company officers liable if
their company violated the law
 It also ended union liability antitrust laws
Labor Unions
During the 1910s, labor unions continued to grow
as the middle classes became increasingly unhappy
Unsafe working conditions were highlighted by the
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
 In this disaster 146 female workers were
killed, spurring the growth of the
International Ladies Garment Workers Union
Children were hired to work in factories, mills,
and mines in unsafe conditions for many hours
By the middle of the decade every state had
passed a minimum age law
Industrial Workers of the World
The IWW was the most militant working class
organization at the time
This union was formed from a mixture of unions
fighting for better conditions in the west’s mining
They felt that all workers should be united within
a single union as well as the wage system
The organization helped improve conditions for
migratory farm workers by using direct action at
the point of production and striking “on the job”
By 1912, the organization had around 50,000
members and was involved in over 150 strikes
“The working class and the employing class have nothing in
common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want
are found among millions of the working people and the few,
who make up the employing class, have all the good things of
life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until
the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession
of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live
in harmony with the Earth.”
Lawrence Textile Strike
This strike was led by the IWW after the mill owner
decided to lower wages
This strike was ground-breaking in two ways:
 The strike was primarily led by women
 It was the first strike in America that brought
working people together from over 25 different
The slogan “Bread and Roses” was first originated in this
In the end, the workers won pay increases, time-and-aquarter pay for overtimes, and no discrimination against
The strikers are also credited with inventing the moving
picket line
The First, First Pitch
William Howard Taft establishes the tradition of
throwing out the first pitch on April 14, 1910
Player-Owner Relationships
Players were becoming increasingly frustrated with poor
conditions on and off the field
1912-Players Fraternity created
 Attempted to negotiate better conditions, but
quickly fell apart
1912-First players strike
 Detroit Tigers players struck over Ty Cobb’s
suspension after fighting with a fan
 Tigers President, Frank J. Navin, hired scabs off
the street to replace his striking players
 This and numerous other problems helped to
increase the sense of injustice within baseball,
eventually leading to the Black Sox Scandal
The Black Sox
Charles Comiskey, Owner of the Chicago White
Sox, paid extremely low wages and treated his
players poorly
Due to their poor treatment, players leaped at any
opportunity to earn more money
A group of players including: Joe Jackson and
Eddie Cicotte, accepted money to throw the 1919
World Series against the Cincinnati Reds
The Scandal
Multiple rumors and accusations led to the
investigation of eight players, and their
eventual trials
During the investigation, both Cicotte and
Jackson confessed, although shortly after their
confessions went missing
Now, with no evidence, all eight players were
Because of the evident problems, Federal Judge
Kenesaw Mountain Landis was brought in as the
sport’s first commissioner
Unfortunately for the players, Landis was not
as forgiving and banned all eight players for life
Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
“Regardless of the
verdict of the juries,
no player who throws
a ball game, no player
who undertakes or
promises to throw a
ball game, no player
who sits in confidence
with a bunch of
crooked players and
does not promptly tell
his club about it, will
ever play professional
World War One and Baseball
Ban Johnson ordered his teams to learn closeorder drills
John K. Tener, President of the National
League, stated “This is a war of democracy
against bureaucracy. And I tell you that
baseball is the very watchword of democracy.”
With baseball now one of the leaders in the
entertainment industry, owners felt no reason
to stop playing
 This decision sparked a great deal of
criticism across the nation along with a
drastic decline in attendance
Players or Soldiers?
Owners argued that
baseball be considered an
essential industry so that
players could not be
Secretary of War Newton
D. Baker disagreed with
this statement, leading to
the drafting of 227 MLB
Three professional players
were killed in combat, one
of whom was Eddie Grant,
former captain of the
Eddie Grant
Isolationism, The New American
Disillusioned by the failure of the war to
achieve high ideals promised by President
Woodrow Wilson, Americans chose isolationism
 Isolationism led to the reliance of
homegrown ideals
This renewed sense of
nationalism created the
need for a hometown hero
 Charles Lindbergh
 Babe Ruth
The Roaring Twenties
The 1920s were given the
nickname the Roaring Twenties,
due to the immense array of
new consumer goods
Although it took time to convert
from a wartime economy to a
peacetime economy, the decade
saw the US become the richest
country in the world
America’s newfound wealth led
to an increased interest in the
many aspects of the
entertainment industry, such as:
sports, movies, and music
Al Jolson
The Unfortunate Few
In spite of America’s numerous advancements, African
Americans, once again, did not benefit, along with the many
other “2nd Class Citizens”
 70 million people lived below the poverty level of $2000
a year per family
After the US entrance in WWI, in which African Americans
were put into segregated units run by whites, the belief
that blacks were “sub-human” remained in the back of
everyone’s mind
Three months later, in the city of Chicago, 38 people were
killed, 537 were injured, and ~1000 were left homeless
after the Chicago Race Riot of 1919
This constant disrespect for Blacks resulted in a new sense
of black pride, which led not only to the famed Harlem
Renaissance, but to the creation of a handful of “blackonly” baseball leagues, known as the “Negro Leagues”
The End of the Dead-Ball Era
In 1920, Major League Baseball instituted a new
set of rules which reduced the pitcher’s arsenal
and improved the hitter’s chance at making solid
The extent to which offense dominated the 1920s
is even difficult to comprehend today
 From 1921-1930, each league neither league
batted under .280
This new, exciting style of play coupled with
America's economic boom led to an increase in
baseball’s attendance and popularity
Nobody exhibited this shift towards offensive
production more than Babe Ruth
The Great Bambino
His towering home
runs and mammoth
swings helped counter
the negative effects
of the Black Sox
scandal and WWI
He exemplified the
average American
due to his rise from
lowly origins and his
enthusiasm for the
Great Ballplayers of the 1920s
“What the fans saw, during the 1920s, were many of
the most colorful and distinctive players in the history
of the game. Babe Ruth was the era’s great
personality, of course, but there were many others
who remain nearly as vivid in our memories.”
- Joseph Wallace
Dizzy Dean
Dazzy Vance
Lefty Gomez
The Radio
With the creation
of the radio, a new
industry was
developed that
broadcasted playby-play descriptions
of baseball games
On August 5, 1921
station’s Harold
Arlin broadcasted
the first game from
Forbes Field
The Negro Leagues
In 1920, Rube Foster, a former ballplayer, founded
the Negro National League
A second league, the Eastern Colored League, was
established in 1923
 The ECL folded in 1928 and led to the creation
of the American Negro league in 1929
The NNL did well until Foster passed away in 1930
Unfortunately, this came at a time in which not only
baseball was suffering, but America was as well
Without a strong leader the NNL entered into the
Great Depression and fell apart
Who is the Greatest Hitter of All-Time?
Josh Gibson
You Decide Babe Ruth
Batting Average
Home Runs
The Great Depression
Due to underconsumption and obvious social
inequalities, the United States found itself found
itself spiraling downwards as it entered a state of
depression in 1929
Although the stock market crash didn’t instantly
plunge all Americans into debt, it left 1/3 of all the
country’s population in serious need of help by 1932
America’s other 2/3 suffered from reductions in job
security, money income, and hours of work
A large part of why the depression was so damaging
was because of the US’ laissez-faire president
Herbert Hoover
Fortunately, in the election of 1932, the US chose a
man fit for the presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR and the New Deal
After entering office, FDR almost immediately
took action in an attempt to fix what his
predecessor chose not to
Roosevelt’s New Deal had three components:
direct relief, economic recovery, and financial
Although a couple of FDR’s agencies were
unsuccessful, a great number helped to recover
a struggling nation
 In 1938, he also created the FSLA,
establishing minimum wage
The Depression and Baseball
The Depression hit baseball almost as hard as it
hit the nation
Young men came to spring training not looking
for stardom but simply looking for a job
Attendance dropped drastically as fans could no
longer afford the cost to get into a game
Others, unwilling to give up baseball, made the
ballpark hot dog their meal of the day
Many people felt that baseball should be
suspended, but a slightly prominent figure in
American society believed that it should
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR realized the importance of social outlets
in the midst of the depression and
emphasized baseball’s continuation
In the President’s mind, politics and baseball
were intertwined, and both were useful in
supporting society’s morale and confidence
Baseball, like the New Deal, battled public
apathy, resignation, defeat, and despair
During his speeches, Roosevelt compared
baseball to his New Deal to instill
understanding and boost the public’s
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR labeled owners and players as examples
of American spirit and dedication
Historian Marc Okkoken said, “He [FDR]
presented a vigorous image and energetically
supported baseball throughout his
presidential years.”
In 1932, Roosevelt stated “Baseball as a
sport has done as much as anything to keep
up the spirits of people when they were
losing their jobs and were in the midst of
the depression.”
Fireside Chats
Throughout FDR’s famed fireside chats, he often used
Baseball metaphors in hope that they would simplify his
complex ideas
On May 7, 1933, in his second fireside chat, Roosevelt
spoke of “making a hit” and “winning for the team”
“I know that the people of this country will understand this and
will also understand the spirit in which we are undertaking this
policy. I do not deny that we may make mistakes of procedure as
we carry out the policy. I have no expectation
of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the
highest possible batting average, not only for myself but for the
team. Theodore Roosevelt once said to me: If I can be right 75
percent of the time, I shall come up to the fullest measure of my
The Annual First Pitch
FDR threw out the first pitch of the season every April at
Griffith stadium in Washington DC
FDR threw out more first pitches than any other president in
history despite his physical ailments from polio
American Sports Heroes
Baseball was not only popular but it was critical during the
depression. Baseball was the cure that many people needed
by providing heroes and symbols that Americans cherished.
Baseball's New Deal
Baseball, like the New Deal, created new attractions in
hopes of stimulating attendance and popularity
Game at Comiskey
Park, Chicago
1935~The first
night game is
played in Cincinnati
The Baseball Hall
of Fame is opened
on June 12, 1939
The first players
inducted were Ty
Cobb, Babe Ruth,
Honus Wagner,
Christy Mathewson,
and Walter
Johnson in 1936
After triumphing the greatest depression in US history only
a couple of years prior, the last thing the American people
wanted was a war
This belief was represented by the country’s four
Neutrality Acts over the course of the 1930s, the most
recent in 1939
 This act amended the earlier legislation by supplying
the UK and France on a “cash and carry” basis
 However, US vessels were forbidden to enter combat
zones and citizens continued to be barred from sailing
on belligerent ships
Realizing that they could no longer stand idly by, the US
signed the Lend-Lease Act on March 11, 1941
Regrettably, the US could only remain neutral for so long
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
On December 7, 1941, the US was attacked by the
Japanese on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and immediately declared
war on her attacker
Four days later, the remaining Axis powers, Germany and
Italy, declared war on the US
A Day
African-Americans and World War II
In the summer of 1941, A. Philip Randolph, president of the
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, began to insist that
companies receiving defense contracts should integrate their
Randolph planned a march on Washington that he promised
would bring almost 100,000
This concept led FDR to cancel the march, but in return he
established the Fair Employment Practices Committee
In 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was created
In Detroit in 1943, a series of racial altercations led to two
days of violence in which 34 people died, 25 of them black
Over time, military leader made racial adjustments when they
realized that they were wasting manpower
By the end of the war, there were more than 700,000 black
Women and World War II
The number of women in the work
force increased by about 60% and
they also accounted for a third of
paid workers in 1945
Through domestic analogies, male
employers believed that women would
find jobs such as cutting airplane
wings (making a dress pattern) and
mixing chemicals (making a cake)
A large number of women worked for
the government and became known as
“government girls”
A substantial amount of women were
employed by the military, as both
WAACs (Army) and Waves (Navy)
Wrongful Internment
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the
127,000 Japanese Americans (mainly located out
west) were treated terribly and even accused of
aiding Japan
Although there was no evidence, according to Earl
Warren, the apparent passivity of both the Issei
and the Nisei was another example of the danger
they posed
In February 1942, FDR created the War
Relocation Authority and placed more than 100,000
Japanese Americans in “Relocation Centers”
Two years later, the Supreme Court backed the
government in the case Korematsu vs. US, stating
that the relocation was constitutional
World War II´s Affect on Baseball
During a game at the Polo Grounds, in May of
1941, play stopped so that both fans and
players could hear the president declare an
unlimited emergency
That summer, fans alarmed by the front pages
found a more reassuring kind of excitement in
one of the best seasons in baseball history
This season was highlighted by:
 Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak
 Ted Williams .406 batting average
 Both records still stand today
Baseball in Japan
The Japanese government denounced the
game of baseball as a bad American
Terms such as: strike, out, and safe
were outlawed
Japanese soldiers, in an attempt to
anger GI’s into revealing their position,
cursed Babe Ruth
Even young Japanese Americans played
inside their internment camps
The Commissioner to the President
The President to the Commissioner
Players in the War
In all, some 340 MLB players went into uniform in
American GI’s played baseball everywhere they fought,
teaching it to anyone they had come in contact with
Players in the War
Although some players saw combat, most stars found
themselves playing baseball for the Army and Navy to raise
funds for the war and to boost the morale of fellow
Pee Wee
All American Girls
Pro Baseball League
Philip Wrigley, chewing-gum king and owner
of the Chicago Cubs, hoped to keep up
interest in baseball during the war
There were already 40,000 women playing
semi-pro softball across the country and
Wrigley wanted to convert the best of them
to hardball
Hundreds turned up in Chicago for tryouts in
may of 1932 and four teams were formed:
 Rockford Peaches, Racine Belles, Kenosha
Comets, and South Bend Blue Sox
All American Girls
The Beauty of Baseball
Not only did players have to be good, but they also had
to be irreproachably feminine
Wrigley felt that Femininity was the keynote of his
 “No pants-wearing, tough talking, female softballer
will play on any of our four teams.”
Wrigley signed up the Helena Robinson cosmetics firm to
run a charm school to help the players learn grace and
Girls were required to wear skirts, high heels, and
makeup off the field, otherwise they were fined
Reflecting the post-war trend towards at home diversions
and the return to a more restrictive conception of
femininity, the league folded in 1954
The Gradual Integration of Baseball
Even though Commissioner Landis repeatedly
stated that there was no rule against the
integration of baseball, there had yet to be a
black player in the Major Leagues as the first
half of the 20th century came to a close
The hypocrisy of fighting racism abroad while
ignoring it at home grew more self evident
African American picketers appeared at Yankee
Stadium with signs stating “If we are able to stop
bullets, why not balls?”
Landis refused to budge and club owners
continued to prohibit integrating the playing field
The Beginning of a New Era
In the Fall of 1944,
Judge Kenesaw Mountain
Landis passed away
His replacement was,
Kentucky politician,
Albert Benjamin “Happy”
Benjamin, unlike Landis,
was pro-integration and
felt “If a black boy can
make it in Okinawa and
Guadal Canal, hell, he
can make it in baseball!”
The Man Who Forever Changed the Game
At UCLA, Jackie Robinson excelled in track,
basketball, football, and his least favorite of
them all, baseball
In 1944, he accepted a $400 a month contract
to play with the Kansas City Monarchs
On October 23, 1945, Branch Rickey,
President, GM, and Co-Owner of the Brooklyn
Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson
On April 15, 1947, 26,623 fans (14,000 of
them black) attended Ebbets Field on opening
day to see Robinson play for the first time
No Respect
Although Robinson was loved by the Black population
and Dodgers Fans, he endured an immense amount
of abuse from the rest of the baseball’s audience
At first, his own teammates, many of them
southerners, didn’t want to play with him and signed
a petition that said they’d rather be traded
Some examples of the abuse endured:
 Threats towards him and his family
 Pitches thrown at his head
 Base runners tried to cut him with their cleats
Seven Years Ahead of its Time
For all the hardships that Robinson and other
black players tolerated, and despite the slow pace
of integration that followed, the MLB was well
ahead of the US
A year after Robinson’s first game, the complete
integration of American Armed Forces finally
It would be seven years before the US Supreme
Court rejected the notion that separate could
truly be equal
It was not until 1965 that Congress enacted
meaningful legislation to protect the basic right of
black citizens to vote
The End