For more than a century, baseball has been the premiere American sport across the nation. Hailed as ‘The Great American Pastime’, it has roots going as far back as the 19th century that have stayed firmly planted throughout the years. Perhaps the most interesting caveat of baseball is that even in modern times, it is still very much an American game.
With a popularity that is limited almost exclusively within the borders of the US, the question raises itself: Why is this the case? Lindsay Guion, the founder and CEO of GUION PARTNERS is an avid baseball fan and with Washington as his hometown, he is overjoyed that the Nats won the 2019 World Series title.
In the midst of this excitement, he takes the time to outline of how baseball became an American Sport.
One of the more popular theories about the origins of baseball in America cites it as the evolution of an English game known as ‘Rounders’, played by Americans during the pre-civil war era (approximately 1861–1865). Although the elements of modern baseball were present, such as bases, bats, innings and home runs (known as circuits at the time), Americans made several modifications of their own, moving the sport forward little by little.
By 1871, the first professional baseball league was formed, and this marked a turning point for baseball, going from more of a casual game to a professional sport. This being said, there was still a huge amount of ground for it to cover.
The 1903 World Series was the first modern World Series to be played in Major League Baseball between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Americans. By the 20th century, there were only baseball teams in eastern cities, not western ones; additionally, its overall popularity was still only lukewarm.
Coming of Age
Jumping ahead to the 1920s, baseball had seen even more rules and regulations being implemented and adjusted: One of the primary catalysts setting off this movement was as huge scandal revolving around the fixing of games in order to win bets, resulting in the outright banning of the conspiring players. During this time, some of the wilder strategies were reigned in, such as ball tampering, and efforts were focused on improving safety through the more frequent replacement of baseballs.
Baseball reached new heights with its first modern legend, Babe Ruth. As the game endured through hardships such as the great depression and the resultant dwindling attendance, Ruth became a superstar that ensured more spectators than ever were firmly planted in their seats, eager to see what he would do next.
The beginning of World War II saw many baseball players being drafted, and although this radically changed the overall presence of baseball in America, with the nation less focused on it, the game was far from over and the end of the 20th century saw it finally rise to even higher heights of popularity and excitement.
Immediately after the war, baseball saw huge surges in attendance, but there was still the matter of eliminating long-standing segregation within the sport. Enter Jackie Robinson, the first black player to break into the major leagues, who pioneered equality and broke down racial barriers. Enduring racism and abuse, he paved the way so that other players could follow suit.
With the advent of cable TV, baseball got the exposure it needed, as well as an exciting new climate change, with television programs placing more attention on individual players. Finally, after a series of strikes, improvements to player treatments, and further rule revisions, baseball reached what was called a ‘Second Coming’ in the 90s, remaining extensively popular in the US today.
Lindsay Guion claims that with the Nationals making the World Series this year, Washington has been met with an overwhelming amount of fan support. With Washington thought of primarily as a government city, the excitement over this sports achievement has brought together a multi-faceted community of supporters.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Lindsay Guion has a very unique and individualized perspective on music and technology. He believes that staying technologically current is the key to success, and having worked with many high-profile clients over the years, his prowess is self-evident.