Baseball: An American Pastime


Baseball is featured in WKU physical education classes, and students eagerly grab leather gloves, wooden or metal bats, and try to learn the rules of success or failure of a team sport from their instructor.   Here’s a little more history.

Baseball was established as an American “pastime” in the middle of the 19th century, about 170 years ago. American professional leagues were established in the early 20th century, along with a cheating scandal in 1919 that lead to the formation of a commission led by a Baseball commissioner to re-build a trustable sports brand. Since then, baseball stars started to capture attention and a subsidiary minor league system in smaller cities was founded to develop young talent.

Media assisted the growth of baseball, with game broadcasts on radio, in newsreels, and later on television.  Children could turn any open field into a baseball park.  Neighborhood competitors would invoke the identity their favorite stars like Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees or Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. (The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958).

The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) and concludes the MLB postseason. First played in 1903, the World Series championship is a best-of-seven playoff between the champions of baseball’s National League (NL) and American League (AL).  The Boston Red Sox were the 2018 World Series champion.

The WKU Library has many books on the sport, business, and cultural aspects of baseball.  Here is a small sample.


Bjarkman, P. C. (2005). Diamonds around the globe: the encyclopedia of international baseball. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.     GV862.5 .B53 2005

Block, D. (2005). Baseball before we knew it: a search for the roots of the game. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.  GV862.5 .B56 2005

Burk, R. F. (2001). Much more than a game: players, owners, & American baseball since 1921. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. GV880 .B87 2001

Dawidoff, N. (Ed.). (2002). Baseball: a literary anthology. New York: Library of America : Distributed to the tradein the U.S. by Penguin Putnam Inc. PS509.B37 B37 2002

Fine, G. A. (1987). With the boys: Little League baseball and preadolescent culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  GV880.5 .F56 1987

Lowenfish, L. (2009). Branch Rickey: baseball’s ferocious gentleman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. GV865.R45 L69 2009

Malamud, B., & Baker, K. (2003). The natural. Logan, Iowa: Perfection Learning. PS3563.A4 2003

Riess, S. A. (1999). Touching base: professional baseball and American culture in the Progressive Era (Rev. ed). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. GV867.64 .R54 1999

Robinson, R. (1993). Matty: an American hero, Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants. New York: Oxford University Press.  GV865.M37 R63 1993


⇐ Back to Library Home Page