Lincoln and the long ball
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - On his 204nd birthday let's take a look at baseball and Abraham Lincoln? Here's some of what's found in the literature:
Baseball and American Culture, by Edward J. Rielly:
"Of the major U.S. sports teams, baseball has the longest heritage. It also numbers among its fans... Abraham Lincoln, who enjoyed baseball as both a participant and spectator. In the latter role, during his years as president, he could conveniently observe games being played on a lot behind the White House."
Baseball in Blue and Gray, by George B. Kirsch:
"Abraham Lincoln's rise to political prominence... occurred during the years when the game was achieving increasing popularity in all regions. The earliest association between Lincoln and baseball appeared in a Currier & Ives political cartoon published in November 1860, shortly after Lincoln defeated three rivals to claim the presidency. In the cartoon, each has a bat in his hands. Lincoln also has the ball and is saying, "Gentleman, if ever you should take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat to strike a fair ball and make a clean score and a home run."
more Baseball in Blue and Gray, by George B. Kirsch:
"According to Winfield Scott Larner, Lincoln and his son Tad watched the [base ball] contest from a spot along the first base line, cheering with their fellow fans and also receiving an ovation from the crowd."
There are those who believe the Civil War, of which Lincoln was the Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army, helped spread the game of baseball because it served to bring men from all over the country together and in their leisure, took up the game. Others, such as Patricia Millen, author of From Pastime to Passion say the war more likely served to slow down the spread of the game, which had already become quite popular in the Northeast in the decades before the war, and spread like wildfire after the war ended.
From Pastime to Passion by Patricia Millen
Baseball in Blue and Gray, by George B. Kirsch
Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, by Edward J. Rielly
This daily dose of baseball history is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.