Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Thursday March 20 2008

Both here and here, I am having an Ed Smith day, in the form of chunks taken from his highly entertaining little book entitled What Sport Tells Us About Life.  Ed Smith is a cricketer, captain of Middlesex, who played a handful of test matches for England.  Here’s the bit where he explains why Americans play baseball instead of cricket.

imageBut more broadly, does a sport have a natural home?  Were some sports bound to flourish in certain countries, and some teams predestined to play in a particular style?  It is easy to slip into ideas of inevitability after events have happened.  Whether they were always going to turn out that way is another question entirely.

Take cricket and baseball.  The conventional view is that nothing could be less American than cricket.  And nothing could be more American than baseball.  Wrong on both counts.  Americans, in fact, could have ended up staying in striped caps and cricket whites.  And baseball, far from being an all-American baby, may have been spawned by French monks and nuns.

Far from being an unpopular anachronism, cricket was once America’s favourite team sport.  It rivalled baseball for most of the nineteenth century, with as many stories in the sports pages of the New York Times until 1880.  Indeed, the first international cricket match was between Canada and the United States in 1844.  By 1850 cricket clubs flourished in twenty-two states.  And in 1858, when the architects of New York’s new Central Park had to name the area allocated (for ball games, they came up with ‘the Cricket Ground’ - much to the despair of baseball’s early supporters.

What went wrong for cricket in America?  Climate cannot have been an issue as summer there is perfect for cricket.  Nor was North American multiculturalism a real problem.  Elsewhere cricket quickly reached beyond its Englishness - Irish Australians, for example, never saw it as an Anglo-Saxon pastime.

The most common argument is that cricket was too long and slow.  ‘Americans do not care to dawdle – what they do, they want to do in a hurry,’ argued Henry Chadwick, the Englishman who helped define baseball’s early days.  ‘In baseball, all is lightning.  Thus the reason for American antipathy to cricket can be readily understood.’ But that was in 1850, when antipathy to cricket was still being invented in the American imagination.

The real answer is that baseball got a lucky bounce in the form of the Civil War. The pitch could be rougher and less equipment was needed, so bored soldiers found it easier to set up a baseball game than a cricket match.  Baseball, for the first time, started to draw ahead.

Enter the spin-doctors.  Baseball’s most successful evangelist was A. G. Spalding, who happened to be a manufacturer of sporting goods.  He marketed baseball as America’s game, invented by Americans, not effete Brits.  It was an honest, rugged game, not a class-ridden elitist diversion.  Spalding would not be the last entrepreneur to realize that there is a big market for class-conspiracy theories.  Inventing baseball’s democratic heritage made him a rich man.

When his 1888 ‘All Star’ baseball world tour returned home, they were welcomed back with a vast celebration banquet. The president of the league repeatedly announced that his sport’s origins were distinctly American, unconnected with inferior English ball games.  The guests began to chant: ‘No rounders! No rounders!’

Spalding, wanting his populist take on baseball to be seen as revealed truth, persuaded a friendly senator to authorize him to form an investigative commission on the origins of the game.  The commission announced that baseball was invented in 1839 by a Civil War hero, Abner Doubleday, in Cooperstown. A nice story, but sadly untrue. Doubleday spent the summer of 1839 as an army officer cadet at West Point, nowhere near Cooperstown.

But no one cared. America had arrived, and baseball - backed by a burgeoning sense of patriotism - had arrived with it.  Cricket was guilty by association.  It retreated into pockets of East Coast anglophilia, arcane strongholds of the old world order.  It is a truism that the winners write history.  Just as the Tudor kings demonized the ‘hunchback’ Richard III, baseball demonized cricket.

Hello Brian,
I find this article pretty refreshing and revealing in the sense you have so much history that you have dug out. Can you give me any pointers as to where you have found your sources? So would you agree with me that Cricket transitioned into Baseball with the advent of time and immigrants into USA? I do believe it is remarkable how a game gets turned around to find a new fascinating game.

Aziz

Posted by Aziz on 26 June 2008
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.