Baseball has been a part of American culture for generations, from local community teams to professional leagues. The game has evolved over time, seeing changes in fundamental rules, traditions and the expansion of players. In this lesson, students will explore the roots of the game and how it developed through artifacts that are presented in the Library of Congress exhibit.
STEP 1: Introduction
Distribute the document below so students may use it to take notes while viewing the videos in this lesson and engaging in class discussion.
Handout: Baseball in America, Origins and Early Days (Google Doc)
As a class, view the following video clips to provide background information on the game of baseball. Use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion.
Video Clip 1: Origins and Early Days of Baseball (2:51)
Library of Congress exhibit curator Susan Reyburn discusses artifacts that represent the origin and early days of the game of baseball dating back to medieval times.
Video Clip 2: Baseball's Founding Documents (2:10)
Susan Reyburn talks about the significance of the founding documents of baseball.
Why does Susan Reyburn refer to the documents she highlights as the Magna Carta of Baseball?
Ask students to view the following videos. You can jigsaw this activity among the class and students can share their findings through whole class discussion.
Video Clip 3: Early Days of Baseball in the United States (2:40)
Susan Reyburn talks about the first intercollegiate baseball game documented in a newspaper as well as the creation of baseball cards and how the Civil War contributed to the spread of baseball across the country.
Describe the earliest baseball coverage of an intercollegiate game that Susan Reyburn discusses.
Describe the earliest baseball card that is shown.
Video Clip 4: Baseball in the 19th Century (2:48)
Susan Reyburn talks about the evolution of baseball cards and John Montgomery Ward's contributions to the game.
Describe the early baseball cards and how they were used in marketing products.
Video Clip 5: Barnstorming Baseball (1:39)
Susan Reyburn talks about barnstorming baseball and the Negro Leagues.
What was barnstorming baseball? Explain its connection to the development of Negro league baseball.
Video Clip 6: Women in Baseball (1:40)
Susan Reyburn talks about women's experiences breaking into baseball as well as Little League Baseball.
Step 3: Culminating Activity
Ask students to consider their notes from viewing the videos and class discussion and have them complete one of the following activities to share with the class:
Write a journal entry describing your experiences as a baseball player in the 19th century. In your reflection you may consider including the following ideas:
As a journalist, write a newspaper article detailing one of the games you attended. You may include:
Create a Baseball card or Snapchat of yourself as a player! Include details such as: