Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Baseball Cards, 1887-1914

[Detail] A. A. Mattern/John Kling. Hassan Triple Folders, 1912.

Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making

As early as 1866, people referred to baseball as the national pastime. Author Charles A. Peverelly in his 1866 book The Book of American Pastimes, offers this explanation of why people in America took to the game:

"The game of Base Ball has now become beyond question the leading feature of the out-door sports of the United States ... It is a game which is peculiarly suited to the American temperament and disposition; the nine innings are played in the brief space of two and one half hours, or less. From the moment the first striker takes his position, and poises his bat, it has an excitement and vim about it ... in short, the pastime suits the people, and the people suit the pastime."

Do students agree with the author's reasoning? What are the strengths and weaknesses of his argument? Are there other factors that contributed to baseball's prominence? To what extent do these factors continue to affect the popularity of baseball?

Students can broaden the discussion to their own experience of fads and trends. What have they seen rise in popularity in American culture? Which have remained and which disappeared? Can they explain why? Students can debate what modern trends they predict will continue or fade away. Remind students that while this is an entertaining discussion for the classroom, investors stake much money in trend analysis. Have students consider how these investments themselves may affect the trends.