Ringel: Baseball on the margins in 1916

From SABR member Paul Ringel at The Hardball Times on September 16, 2016:

In my first article here at The Hardball Times, I examined the state of major league baseball in 1916 through the experiences of Babe Ruth and sportswriter Ring Lardner. Then, as now, the lives of big leaguers were vastly different from those of men and women working in other capacities within professional baseball. Indeed, in an era before farm systems and rampant discrimination both within and outside the game, teams beyond the major leagues existed in a distinct baseball culture that also deserves consideration when examining the professional game in the United States a century ago.

While the majors were expanding their audience, and stars like Ruth and Lardner were on the verge of unprecedented fame and wealth, other segments of the professional baseball industry continued to employ a more established approach to selling their product. Independent traveling teams (which were often called “barnstormers”) like the Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis ABCs, Bloomer Girls, and House of David often struggled to earn a living. Yet as they traveled by train or wagon or foot to any location where they could play for money, these barnstormers maintained a baseball tradition that was becoming increasingly elusive for big leaguers: the freedom to escape the prevailing social and work expectations of segregated, industrializing America.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/baseball-on-the-margins-in-1916/

Originally published: September 16, 2016. Last Updated: September 16, 2016.