Gilbert: Epidemic disease, baseball, and hope

From SABR member Tom Gilbert at How Baseball Happened on April 17, 2020:

Who gave us baseball? There are many answers to this question, but here is one that you probably have not heard before: epidemic disease.

I spent most of the past several years doing research for a book on baseball’s beginnings, which meant reading a lot of newspapers from the 1830s, 40s and 50s. The America I encountered there was a strange and unfamiliar country, particularly when it comes to sports. Today we are world famous as the sports-mad nation where the four seasons of the year are baseball, football, basketball, and ice hockey—where ordinary people run and work out into their 40s and 50s; where old age and golf are inseparable; and where someone coined the word “athleisure.”

Believe it or not, Americans were once known for the exact opposite. Before the late 1850s we had no sports leagues. Newspapers did not have sports sections. Hard-working rural grownups had no time for games.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 23, 2020. Last Updated: April 23, 2020.