The Memorial Day weekend has started and for those in the north, mid-west and the mountain west, it is the unofficial start of summer. Memorial Day used to fall on May 30 regardless of the day of the week until 1968. Before 1968 in the world of Major League Baseball, it was a day marked with remembrance at the ballpark and a doubleheader. Baseball was the king of sports in the United States during this time with boxing and horse racing trailing in second and third place. Baseball didn’t share many summer days with other sports. Competition was scarce aside from the Indianapolis 500 that was once a premiere May 30 sporting event, the Belmont Stakes in June, a golf major or the Olympics every four years which may not necessarily be in the summer. That leads to a question- has baseball lost its place in the American culture?
There are no songs written about baseball players anymore. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was composed in 1908. There are no more poems like Casey at the Bat, and no double play combination has been immortalized in a century like Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance. There are no Broadway plays anymore like “Damn Yankees” or television programs where a Leo Durocher might show up to scout Herman Munster. The last major baseball movie was Moneyball in 2010. Major League, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own and the Natural are a generation old as is Ken Burns’ baseball documentary. Comics did baseball routines and the most famous routine remains Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.” In cartoons, Bugs Bunny took on the Gashouse Gorillas and literature featured baseball. The great DiMaggio is mentioned in Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” and Joltin’ Joe also appears in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” tune. Major League Baseball is doing well financially, but baseball has lost its way in the American culture.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.