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Baseball and urbanization Essay

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Updated: May 26th, 2020


Urbanization refers to the shift of the primary population of a country from the rural setting to urban setting. The urban setting in this context refers to towns, cities, and their suburbs. The major cause of urbanization is the movement of people from their rural homes into urban centers to look for employment opportunities and to enjoy the social amenities that are readily available in the urban centers (Delaney & Madigan, 48).

Urbanization and industrialization are closely interrelated processes. The latter refers to the process by which a traditionally agricultural economy is transformed into an industrial economy by use of modern industrial technology as opposed to the traditional processes. In this regard, increased industrialization will lead to increased urbanization since the rural population has to migrate to these urban centers to provide the labor that is required in this newly established factories and manufacturing industries.

The need to search for markets of the agricultural produce can eventually lead to a shift of some rural population into the urban centers.

Other factors like good infrastructure, availability of water and electricity, availability of sporting and other recreational facilities, nearness to educational centers, as well as nearness to health facilities are also some of the reasons that can contribute to urbanization. It is thus worth noting that urbanization in a given nation or state will be affected by the social, political and economic factors prevailing in the cities and towns of that country.

Urbanization in the United States

Urbanization in the United States has had rapid growth in the last two centuries. Before then only a small fraction, less than 5%, of the population were living in the cities (Anon Para. 2). Cities are congested areas where the population cannot carry out their own farming activities to support them.

They therefore rely on the farm produce from the rural regions for their consumption. In the earlier days, farming was practiced using the traditional techniques and a lot of work force was needed to give a relatively small output. Much of the population was thus forced to stay in their rural homes to provide the labor.

However, when the use of modern farming implements was introduced, more yield could now be obtain through relatively less input. A relatively larger urban population could now be supported by the agricultural produce resulting from increased mechanization in the agricultural sector. A fraction of the population could now migrate to the urban centers to provide labor in other factories that were rapidly developing.

Increased mechanization encouraged rapid urbanization in the United States as well as the other European countries during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. For instance, at the very beginning of the nineteenth century, the urban population in the United States was 5% of the total population.

The fraction had risen to 50% of the population by 1920. Currently, the urban population in the United States stands at 80% of the population and the urbanization process is considered to have reached its optimum since not everyone could migrate to the cities (Anon Para. 4).


Baseball is a sports activity that is played by two teams each comprising nine players. The game requires three tools namely the bat, the ball, and the mitt hence it is usually referred to as the bat-and-ball activity. The initial game has had various modifications and the current baseball is largely thought to have been founded by Abner Doubleday (1819-1893). However, its true founder is still under debate (Delaney & Madigan 49).

The baseball is not very big, approximately the size of the human fist. The bat is the hitting tool while the mitt is the fielding tool. The activity is carried out in a square field that is about ninety feet in length. A point, referred to as a run, is obtained when a player in one team hits a ball that has been thrown by the opponent using the bat, and attempting to touch the four bases situated at the vertices of the field.

The opponent has the role of stopping the scoring of this run by directing the hitters elsewhere. The batting and fielding processes are done in turn by each team after the fielding team has scored three outs. The team that will have recorded the highest number of runs will be the winning team.

Baseball in the United States

Baseball found its roots in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. Before this period, the Americans were bound to the games and sporting activities that were introduced by the colonial government.

During this period, the changes that were witnessed in the American sport occurred at a low rate particularly because of the low level of industrialization and urbanization that had been realized in the nation (Delaney & Madigan, 48). Its fame grew in the cities of the United States and in 1857; the clubs within New York City formed the National Association of Baseball Players.

The body saw the game develop in the following years and made several changes both within and outside the sporting field. Baseball was known as “national pastime” because it was the most popular game in the States at that time. It made changes to some rules of the game and several other baseball clubs were formed. It later barred the black Americans from participating in baseball activities. There was the rise of the first professional league organized by the body in 1871, which lasted for about four years.

The baseball National League that still survives was stared in 1876. Attempts by the Negroes and the African Americans to participate in the league or to form their own professional leagues all failed during the subsequent period and they only ended up in minor category. However, legal intervention later paved way for the formation of other rival leagues like the American League.

Sports and urbanization

Urbanization in the United States had reached a considerable point by the end of the nineteenth century. However, the conditions in the urban cities were not conforming to the standards that were expected and this drew invited a lot of criticism. Many people felt that life in the rural areas was now better.

There were many crime cases in the cities. Vices like immorality and corruption were the order of the day. The farmers back in the rural areas appeared to be more honest people living better life (Delaney & Madigan, 48). The urbanization process that had earlier on exhibited a very high rate was now threatened and many felt like seeking refuge back in the rural area. Therefore, there was the need to develop the strategies that would help improve the social life in the cities.

One of the social activities that appeared to be handy in healing the wound was sports. Sporting activities bring participants and funs from different cultures in a given community. It is evident that most of the cities in the United States at this period were cosmopolitan having the Native Americans, the Indians, the African American, the of social misconducts in the cities.

It was believed that collectively participating in various sports activities would ‘benefit society by instilling traditional American values upon immigrants – lower and middle class persons’ (Delaney & Madigan, 48).

It was considered that sporting activities could considerably influence the welfare of the members of a given society. As such, most of the governments in the world empowered the sports sector.

The development of sporting events in these countries promoted the urbanization as government policies were enacted that promoted the activities in a bid to generate the revenue from hosting the events (Gratton et al, 2). More consideration was put on the sports sector and towards the end of the century, several clubs had been instituted that dealt with sporting activities.

Volleyball and basketball were created during this period. Other sporting activities had also been put in place. These included horseracing, rowing, cricket, English sport, bicycle riding, and many other events. Most of these sporting activities were performed in the urban areas where there was a handsome population. As such, their facilities were also constructed within the proximity of the cities. This promoted urbanization.

Baseball and urbanization in the United States

Baseball was one of the sports activities that emerged during this period, and which had a substantial effect on the urban growth in the cities of the States. New York City and its environs had about ninety-six baseball clubs by 1858. It was the most popular sporting activity among the middle class during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century.

This increased love for baseball had the following effects on the growth of urban centers in the United States during this period. Firstly, more interest was developed in the game and by this time, the little baseball stadiums were bulging during sports occasion due to the large number of fans that were attracted by the game (Delaney & Madigan, 50).

The attraction of several people to watch the baseball games called for the expansion of the sporting facilities to facilitate their accommodation. This had to create job opportunities in the cities since most of the stadiums were situated in the major cities. This contributed to rural-urban migration and hence promoted urbanization that was already deteriorating considerably.

Secondly, there were other recreational activities carried at the end of the games. These miscellaneous activities promoted economic activities in the towns and cities. Facilities like hotels and lodges had to be constructed, creating yet other employment and business opportunities. Thirdly, just like the other popular sports activities like football and athletics, baseball drew people players and fans from across cultures.

The game was well developed in the urban setting and was better positioned to cultivate the right character in the players and the spectators. As Riess reports, ‘sport was rationalized and bureaucratized in the cities, where its nationalism, wholesomeness, excitement, and drama made it the national pastime’ (65).

This promoted multicultural coexistence that finally eliminated the racial or ethnic clashes that dominated the urban centers in the past period. Unity and peaceful coexistence was thus restored. There were even inter-city baseball competitions that further cultivated a sense of patriotism. One would have pride if a club from his city emerged the winner in a competition. This would indicate the level of the civilization that the city had attained.

Besides, one of the threats that faced the urbanites was lack of physical fitness. Much of the urban population appeared to have health problems resulting from the daily core routines that required some abnormal posture like a secretary sitting for ten hours at a typewriting machine.

The provisions by the baseball creed that was aimed at improving the citizens’ understanding of the ideologies related to sports, reassured the urbanites that their traditional view of the baseball game as a rural-based game could still be applied in the urban setting (Riess, 66).

The contents of the creed were however dismissed by analysts like Riess as myths that were full of fiction. According to the creed, playing and watching the game was considered as a physical exercise that was necessary for good health. The creed further affirmed that ‘just attending games was even said to help urbanites to improve their fitness by getting them out into fresh air, where they could wave their hands and exercise their vocal chords’ (Riess, 65).

Riess believes that the baseball creed was full of fiction but that it succeeded in transforming the behavior and attitudes of the citizens. He observes that the supposed myths and misconceptions were largely accepted by the urbanites and that this indicated that the game played a significant role in shaping the culture of the urban population. The creed ‘had a strong influence on contemporary thought and behavior because people perceived the ideology to be [true and] accurate’ (Riess, 66).

It was seen as an appropriate medium through which the newcomers into the cities would be assimilated into the prevailing native culture. It encouraged the ball players to have the spirits of teamwork, honesty, hard work, integrity, as well as high of discipline. These core values are essential to urban development. Briley asserts that the game ‘seems to embody the many of the values coming to dominate an urbanized and industrialized America’ (1).

Finally, the fame of the sport especially in the urban areas attracted the attention of many investors. The prominent businesspersons were initially opposed to the sport and claimed that those who participated in the activity were actually avoiding their responsibilities. Nevertheless, after the Civil War, these groups of business executives were also attracted by what seemed to be the fruits of the activity in shaping the youths of the urban areas (Riess 67).

Baseball clubs were created by political aliens who used them for commercial purposes. The executives also gave their white-collar employees some time in order to practice the sport. This created a good working environment that could attract many people into the programs. In this way, the game supported urbanization since the players, mainly drawn from the rural areas and other small towns were recruited into the teams. It was thus a form of employment both to the players and to the entrepreneurs.

However, baseball also had some shortcomings that posed challenges to industrialization and urbanization. Firstly, it had one important feature that made it an enemy to an industrializing economy, and which would eventually affect urbanization. This was time management.

Most interesting sporting activities are timed and as such proper scheduling of the activities is possible. It was noted that ‘the length of games was determined not by a fixed time or distance but by the innings, which in theory, could be timeless’ (Riess, 66). Nevertheless, it had been noted that the game averagely took two hours.

Providing a little more allowance for further deviation would be essential in planning the activity. Secondly, the costs at the ballparks were increasing rapidly and the low class spectators were not able to attend the games. Some of the ballparks were located in the outskirts of the urban centers and the costs of commuting to those parks were always hiked during the championships.

The games were also organized at times when others were still engaged in their daily chores and thus could not attend. In effect, the ballparks were dominated by men and the high-class white-collar employees who had enough time and money to attend the games. The workers at the lower levels as well as the immigrants were less represented during these occasions. The intended purpose of cultivating the culture of unity and coexistence was thus thwarted.

Worst still, the process of integrating baseball was faced with various obstacles up to the middle of the twentieth century when the blacks could now find their ways into the major leagues. Racial segregation was prevalent even among the spectators and it was until demonstrations were carried out that the vice came to a halt.


It is worth noting, at this point, that urbanization process is currently experienced in the developing countries. Most of the developed countries have almost reached an equilibrium point in which not much more population is expected to migrate to the urban centers. The equilibrium in this context implies that there are almost equal forces that help the situation remain as it is. The urban population will not shift significantly to the rural areas and neither will much more section of the population migrate to the urban centers.

This is particularly because nearly all the social, political, and economic factors that contribute to urbanization in states have attained the optimum in these countries. The learning institutions in these countries have fully flourished into a technology-based process and mass migration to the cities in search of such services is no longer authentic. Sports activities have been fully supported with modern facilities and the construction of such facilities is not common agendum.

What is of their concern is the income generated from hosting international activities. One such mega event is the Little League World Series, an international baseball tournament organized annually in Williamsport (Delaney & Madigan, 102). Most of the developed countries have reached political maturity. Adverse political instability that is likely to influence migratory habits in a country is not common in these countries either.

The countries have been fully industrialized and the required expertise is available following the excellent design in the curriculum. Little rural-urban migration in search of employment opportunities is recorded. In fact, some of these countries currently advocate for decentralization to ease the congestion that is experienced in these urban centers.

Works Cited

Anon. “The Urbanization of the World.” The Urbanization of the World. Web.

Briley, Ronald. Baseball and American Cultural Values. New Mexico, Sandia Preparatory School Albuquerque. Web.

Delaney, Tim and Madigan, Tim. . Jefferson: McFarland. 2009. Web.

Gratton, Chris et al. “Sport and Economic Regeneration in Cities.” Urban Studies, Vol.42, Nos. 5/6, 985-999. 2005. Web.

Riess, Steven. . Champaign: University of Illinois Press. 1991. Web.

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