Dillard: Baseball and blue laws

From Tom Dillard at Arkansas Online on April 15, 2018:

I am not much of a sports fan. But if I were going to follow a sport, it would be baseball. My late father-in-law once professed his love for baseball because he could follow a game on television perfectly well while reading a book at the same time.

More importantly, baseball is a game of the American people, a sport which is bound up in our history–providing diversion during times of both prosperity and depression. And at one time in our history baseball became caught up in the shrill debate over proposed “blue laws” to outlaw athletic events on Sunday as a desecration of the Sabbath.

Part of baseball’s appeal was its affordability. Every crossroads village in the land could field a team, and most did. Given its broad appeal and popularity, it is surprising that baseball got caught up in the social and religious controversies that followed World War I–perhaps a foretaste of today’s culture wars. In no state did this conflict play out more dramatically than in Arkansas.

The exact origin of baseball is unclear, but the game had taken on standard rules in America by the mid-1840s (Abner Doubleday did not invent the game as commonly believed). The game prospered following the Civil War. Baseball came early to Arkansas. Little Rock got its first team in May 1867, strangely named the Accidentals.

Read the full article here: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/apr/15/baseball-and-blue-laws-20180415/

Originally published: April 16, 2018. Last Updated: April 16, 2018.