University of Michigan-Flint

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UM-Flint to Examine History of “Baseball Fever” in Michigan

  • March 6th, 2014 By: UM-Flint News
1880s-era promotion for the Detroit, Wolverines baseball club.

The Skinny

The Detroit Tigers’ home opener is just weeks away (March 31). Thousands will brave the cold (snow is possible) to watch our national pastime. Ever wonder how baseball became so popular? Did you know Michigan played a key role in expanding its popularity? The man who wrote the book on local baseball history is coming to the UM-Flint Friday, March 14 to answer these questions and others.

The Detroit Tigers’ home opener is just weeks away (March 31). Thousands will brave the cold (snow is possible) to watch our national pastime. Ever wonder how baseball became so popular? Did you know Michigan played a key role in expanding its popularity? The man who wrote the book on local baseball history is coming to the UM-Flint Friday, March 14 to answer these questions and others.

Peter Morris has written three books on baseball including Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan. His talk will focus on the role Michigan clubs played, and in particular several memorable clubs from the Flint area, in spreading the game.

The U.S. Library of Congress has many images of early baseball.

The U.S. Library of Congress has a great collection of early baseball images.

Unfortunately, efforts to understand early baseball have all too often focused on trying to answer the question, “Who invented baseball?” Not only is that question unanswerable, but attempts to answer it have obscured the far more dynamic and complex process by which baseball emerged as the national pastime. Rather than trying to identify such an inventor, this talk will argue that baseball’s origins only make sense by focusing on why the need for a national pastime became especially crucial in the 1860s, and why baseball was so well suited for that role.

Morris will speak at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 14 in the Happenings Room, Harding Mott University Center.

If you enjoy his talk, you can buy one or all of Peter Morris’ books. Barnes and Noble will be selling A Game of Inches, Baseball Fever, and But Didn’t We Have Fun? in the lobby. (Yes, Mr. Morris will sign your copy).

This event is part of the University of Michigan-Flint Department of History’s 2013-14 Wyatt Lecture Series.

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