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Journal of Sport History Vol.1 No.1 - American Studies @ The ...

Journal of Sport History Vol.1 No.1 - American Studies @ The ...

Journal of Sport History Vol.1 No.1 - American Studies @ The

Reflections On Diamonds: AmericanBaseball and American Culture*D. Q. VoigtSporting history comes into its own as part of the burgeoning socialhistory movement in historiography. The growing recognition ofsports, along with other ignored areas of human behavior, is ending along era of snobbery characterised by a fallacious attitude on the partof those historians who held politics, economics, and intellectualpursuits to be the only proper avenues for historical inquiry. So longas such snobbery persisted, the record of history resembled presentday concepts of the universe-filled with awesome black holes withunknown functions that becloud our understanding of our originsand our future. For other reasons, to be sure, that great historianHenry Adams regarded such gaps in the historical record as justificationfor his personal decision to quit the writing of history becausehe perceived such study to be inadequate in the pursuit of truth, thuscausing historiography to lose one of its finest pens. But if few of usare driven by Adams’ perfectionism, at least we now feel free to doour honest best to expand the record to include the full behavior ofmillions of Americans whose interests and pursuits were so longdismissed as trivial by academic historians.As recently as 1960 the comprehensive bibliographical Guide to theStudy of the United States of America recorded the observation that“it has been found impossible to represent the sports strictly inproportion to their importance.” While conceding the importance ofsports, the editor spoke condescendingly of their available sources,deriding them as childish, uncritically written, over statistical, full offables, and addicted to chronicling the “fame and glory of themoment.” 1To read such words even now is to persuade faint-hearted students*This paper was presented as the J. R. Betts Memorial Lecture at the 1st. AnnualConvention of the North American Society for Sport History, held at Ohio StateUniversity, Columbus, Ohio, May 25-26, 1973. The objective, therefore. was topresent it orally. However it was considered to be of such calibre that it warrantedpublication in its written form. The object of the paper, oral presentation, accountsfor more personal style than is usually encountered in scholarly articles. (Editor)1 Roy P. Bask, et al., eds., A Guide to the Study of the United States of America (Washington:Library of Congress, 1960), p. 686.3

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