Craig: Lew Fonseca and the myth of democratic baseball

From Mary Craig at Baseball Prospectus on April 13, 2017:

Baseball has a storied and deliberate history of being connected to American politics, from its roots in the Civil War to presidents throwing Opening Day first pitches to the widespread belief during World War II that baseball made America more peaceful than Europe. Though it is correct that these connections have in some ways produced an American baseball synonymous with American politics, these efforts have perpetuated the dangerous belief that the mere existence of American democracy safeguards people from suffering and persecution.

These issues were on full display in a 1951 Lew Fonseca short film titled The Democracy of Baseball. The film was packaged as a celebration of the game on behalf of the National League’s 75th anniversary and the American League’s 50th. The 17-minute film was shown to baseball writers, boy scouts, and young baseball players, among many others, as a means of educating them on the sport’s history. However, the heavy-handed American democratic and militaristic ties to the sport on display in the film present a superficial account of the game that, in service of specific political goals, omits the real, full nature of baseball’s American-ness.

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Originally published: April 13, 2017. Last Updated: April 13, 2017.