RCL Artifact Outline
Thesis: The baseball, as a civic artifact, can be seen as symbolic as a microcosm of America as it enters the decades that many consider to have attributed the loss of innocence in America. Like America, in the early days of the 20th century, baseball was the quintessentially American passion that tied all persons together. The young kids would play in the streets for the sheer fun of the game. As America progressed into the 1960s and 1970s, the strife and angst being displayed in the streets and popular culture were being reflected on the field. As America entered the golden age of the new millennium, the stars of baseball fell to drugs, similar to the drug crisis seen in around the country today.
Introduction: Everyone in this room at some point or another played baseball or softball when they were a kid. Close your eyes and think back to those days. You are standing out in the infield, its a cold March day and the wind is nipping at the hoody you have tucked under your jersey, you can see your parents proudly huddled in the stands rooting you on. From the bench you hear your coach call out, “Get baseball ready!” and you squat down with your glove out, ready to field the ball. You hear the crack of the bat and see the ball rolling towards you. You cannot wait to field it and throw the runner out. As it gets nearer and nearer you get more and more anxious until finally it is upon you and- it goes right through your legs. You can feel the tears welling up in your eyes but something stops you. A phrase keeps reiterating itself over and over again saying, “There’s no crying in baseball. There’s no crying in baseball”. This line was made famous by the movie, “A League of Their Own” and it truly encapsulates the American culture surrounding baseball. The sport is ingrained in American society. Kids play baseball. The baseball as a civic artifact can be taken many ways. As the country has gone through changes, baseball has been right there beside it. Generations upon generations have played baseball and it is a common bond shared by many. From our great-grandparents, to our grandparents, and our parents, baseball, whether they enjoyed the sport or not, has been as an integral part of American culture as the apple pie. [insert thesis]
- 1920s-1950s America
a. “America’s Pastime”, the glory days of baseball.
b. Youth playing in the streets. The kids would play with anything they had just to play some semblance of the sport.
c. The influence of baseball on the soldiers in WWII and Korea- The hand grenades were designed to resemble baseballs because, “every American boy should know how to throw a baseball”. If a wounded G.I. was found, he would be quizzed about who won the most recent world series because every American would know that.
a. Flag Burning on the Field- On April 25th, 1976, Rick Monday, the centerfielder for the LA Dodgers, prevented a flag from being burned by a fan on the field.
b. “Mrs. Robinson”, by Simon and Garfunkel- The song is written to allude to the perceivable loss of innocence in America as highlighted by the phrase that pays tribute to the class act of the Yankees, Joe DiMaggio by saying, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away?”
c. “The Bronx is Burning” Tensions are so high across the country in the summer of 1977 that the racial tensions spill onto the field of the Yankees when a black outfielder and white manager come to verbal blows.
a. Steroid Epidemic- Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds headline stars in the late 90s early 2000s busted for PEDs. The epidemic was so bad that it was bought before Congress.
b. “Baseball may be America’s pastime, but football is America’s passion”
c. Push to “Make Baseball Fun Again”- highlighted by Bryce Harper (baseball’s future superstar) wearing a “Make Baseball Fun Again Hat”.
This chronology will be developed through the eyes of each generation of kids. Every few decades is a new generation.