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[Detail] Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s, offers materials from the history of the national pastime including magazines, sheet music, and game-related memorabilia. These primary sources, along with transcripts of speeches by and interviews with participants involved with Jackie Robinson’s arrival in the major league, provide a history of the game and its influence on various aspects of American society.

1) The History of Baseball

Baseball evolved from an amateur sport into a national pastime during the nineteenth century. This collection contains images of teams that reflect the growth of the game in both the amateur and professional ranks. Team photographs include military players represented in the 1863 painting, Union Prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. and an 1898 photograph of the U.S.S. Maine Base Ball Club as well as professional teams such as the Baltimore and All-America team and the Chicago Indoor Base Ball team (both photographed in 1897).

Two Special Presentations in this collection provide a brief history of the sport. "Drawing the Color Line: 1860s-1890s," the first part of "Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson," offers insight into baseball’s evolution with a timeline chronicling the professionalization of the sport. "Baseball Beginnings" from "Early Baseball Pictures, 1860s-1920s" provides additional images of this era and discusses traditions such as the President of the United States throwing out the first pitch on opening day.

  • What does it mean to be a national pastime?
  • Where did this phrase come from?
  • Why do you think baseball became known as the national pastime instead of other sports?
  • How did the sport change as it became professionalized?
  • Do you think baseball is still the national pastime?
  • What other sports currently compete with baseball in terms of popularity and participation (on both the amateur and professional levels)?