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Is baseball a global sport? America's 'national
pastime' as global field and international sport
WILLIAM W. KELLY
I claim that Base Ball owes its prestige as our National Game to the fact that as
no other form of sport it is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence,
Combativeness; American Dash, Discipline, Determination; American Energy,
Eagerness, Enthusiasm; American Pluck, Persistency, Performance; American
Spirit, Sagacity, Success; American Vim, Vigor, Virility.
Base Ball is the American Game par excellence because its playing demands
Brain and Brawn, and American manhood supplies these ingredients in
quantity sufficient to spread over the entire continent.
(Spalding 1911: 12)
The articles of this special issue are but the latest to demonstrate how powerfully
sports have been a connective tissue of modem life on imperial, international and
global scales. Soccer, cricket and baseball'were at the core of a myriad of organized
sports and physical leisure activities that were formalized in the nineteenth century
and spread quickly from the West to the Rest. From the second half of that century,
they travelled the colonial, military and mercantile circuits of the world as
organizational complexes of skills, rules, equipment and players, creating a global
sportscape of local followings, national pastimes ·and international rivalries. What
happened when they arrived in locations around the world has produced a fascinating,
rich literature about the dynamics of domestication that often these days goes under
the catch-all notion of 'glocalization'. The term captures the sense that local appro-
priation is seldom simply assimilating and imitating. Rather, it is generally a process
of indigenization -
of appropriating the foreign objects and practices by
recontextualizing them into local matrices of meaning and value.