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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Baseball Americana
  • June 29, 2018–July 27, 2019
    8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • South Gallery, Second Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building
Explore the Exhibit

Americans had been playing baseball long before they agreed on the rules or even settled on how to spell it.

Base-Ball (1787)
base-ball (1799)
base ball (1818)
Base Ball (1845)
baseball (1899)

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, on 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.