A new exhibition at the Library of Congress takes an in-depth look at America’s pastime. “Baseball Americana” features items from the Library’s collections and those of its lending partners to consider the game then and now—as it relates to players, teams, and the communities it creates.
Although baseball has stayed true to many of its customs, it has also broken with tradition through the invention, competition, and financial interests that still make it the most played sport in the country. Each of these topics are explored in the exhibition.
The exhibition is organized into five sections:
- “Origins and Early Days” features the development of baseball from its early forms, when Massachusetts Town Ball and the New York Game battled for supremacy, to the game we know today.
- “Who’s Playing?” encompasses the variety of participants and the diverse array of ball clubs that ruled the sandlot, barnstormed the country or occupied magnificent stadiums. An integral piece of this story is that of the players who have fought for the right to play as equals regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender.
- “At the Ballpark” examines traditions and changes in the architecture and accoutrements of baseball, fan interaction, music and media coverage.
- “The Promise of Baseball” explores the many ways that the sport gave poor players a path out of poverty and new immigrants access and the ability to help shape American culture, as well as the economics and business of baseball and how the game has been used for diplomacy beyond U.S. borders.
- “The Art and Science of Baseball” considers the constant and changing views of mastering the game, building a team, getting an edge, tracking statistics and the art of winning.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library has developed a series of special programs including a vintage baseball clinic based on the game’s 19th-century rules, a children’s performance about African-American ballplayers, and a screening of the popular film “Field of Dreams.”
“Baseball Americana” is on view in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, DC. The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and guided tours are available Wednesdays through Fridays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m.