SABR

Kirsch: Baseball behind bars during the Civil War

From George Kirsch at the New York Times on April 2, 2013, with mention of SABR member John Husman:

Civil War prisons were terrible places: captured solders suffered and died by the thousands from malnutrition, disease and exposure to the elements. But in several Northern and Southern prisons, a few fortunate inmates were able to enjoy, for a moment, a lighter side of life: baseball.

The Civil War was the caldron of America’s pastime, the period in which several prototype forms of the game – the New York game, townball – were melded into what we more or less know as the sport today. Such melding took place in camps, where officers on both sides permitted and even encouraged baseball playing. But it also took place in prisons, mostly notably those in Salisbury, N.C., and Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.

During the first two years of combat, weather permitting, the Salisbury camp was the site of daily baseball games by captured Northern soldiers. Adolphus Magnum, a Confederate chaplain who visited the prison in 1862, wrote that a few inmates “ran like schoolboys to the play ground and were soon joining in high glee in a game of ball.”

Read the full article here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/americas-pastime-behind-bars/?emc=eta1

This page was last updated April 3, 2013 at 10:25 am MST.

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