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Exhibition Baseball Americana

  • June 29, 2018

Americans had been playing baseball long before they agreed on the rules or even settled on how to spell it. They didn't always call it baseball either—in some places it was known simply as "town ball" or, more generically, "round ball." No matter what form it has taken, baseball—and its close fraternal twin, softball—has endured. But it hasn't stayed the same in anyone's lifetime. Former major leaguer and announcer Bob Uecker, upon hearing the phrase "emotional distress" to describe poor hitting, observed, "When I played, they didn't use fancy words like that. They just said I couldn't hit."

Baseball Americana features items from the Library of Congress collections and those of its lending partners to consider the game then and now—as it relates to players, teams, and the communities it creates. Although baseball has stayed true to many of its customs, it has also broken with tradition through the invention, competition, and financial interests that still make it the most played sport in the country.

More about the Baseball Americana exhibition

Read about the handwritten “Laws of Base Ball” from 1857 and other treasures that will be on display beginning June 29

  • Walter Johnson, Washington Nationals. Baseball card, 1911. Chromolithograph with hand-color. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
  • Members of the DC Force at the national Baseball For All Tournament, the nation's largest all-girls baseball tournament. Rockford, Illinois, July 2017. Courtesy of photographer Theron Camp.
  • African American baseball players from Morris Brown College. Photographic print, 1899 or 1900. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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