The Traditional American Game
Like life in traditional society, but unlike football and basketball, the other two major American team sports, baseball is not governed by the clock and amazes many foreigners that it is the “national sport” in a fast-paced United States. Being a very popular team sport, apart from North America also in Latin America, the Caribbean and East Asia, baseball is a bat-and-ball game in which a pitcher throws a fist-sized hard ball past the hitting area of a batter. The batter, who belongs to the other team, then attempts to hit the ball with a smooth, cylindrical bat made of wood or metal. The team will score only when the batter manages to successfully batting the ball and then runs over four markers existing on the diamond-shaped baseball field, placed on a ninety feet distance from each other and called bases, while his opponents try at the same time to catch the ball and successfully throw it by using their hands to their teammates located at each of the four bases before the batter manages to cover the last ninety feet and reach the last base.
While a football game comprises exactly sixty minutes of play and a basketball game forty or forty-eight minutes, baseball has no set game duration. The pace of the game is therefore leisurely and unhurried, like the world was once, before the deadlines, schedules and hour wages. As a matter of fact, baseball belongs to that time when people had all day to play a game. Much like traditional rural life, baseball proceeds according to the rhythm of nature, specifically the rotation of the Earth around itself and the Sun. In fact, during its early years, baseball was not played during the night, which meant that this traditional leisure game was over before sunset at the latest.
Today, the baseball season follows a traditional pace, following the cycle of the active part of the agricultural year. Baseball season begins with the coming of spring, stretches through the long hot days of the summer, and culminates, like the growing season with its harvest, in the fall. From November through March, baseball players were inactive once, but now most of them migrate to the warmer climates of Central and South America.
Finally, just as rural societies everywhere observed the three phases of the growing season with festivals, so does baseball. There is the opening day of the season marked by the arrival of spring. Then the annual All-Star Game matching the best players from the two major leagues comes in midsummer, and last in October, the baseball championship competition called “World Series,” often called the “fall classic,” begins.
With worldwide famous players, like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, baseball’s golden age transformed these sports athletes to epic figures who inspired many and reminded people why keeping our roots alive should be considered of extreme importance. In fact, a measure of baseball’s standing at the heart of American life is its transcendence of the boundary between popular and high culture. More than the other two favorite American sports, baseball has had a “crossover appeal,” attracting interest from groups with little else in common. It is first and foremost a form of popular entertainment. But it has also been the subject of serious literally treatment and rigorous quantitative analysis. In the national life of the United States, baseball has made a place for itself in both the arts and sciences.