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Winner of the Adele Mellen Prize for Contribution to Scholarship

This book begins with chapters devoted to baseball’s much-disputed beginnings and baseball in North America. There are also individual chapters devoted to baseball in Asia, Latin and South America, Australia and countries “down under,” Europe, Africa, and nearly every country imaginable. Along with names of individuals who brought baseball to these sometimes far-away regions, the author nonetheless interjects items related to baseball that will be new or pleasingly familiar to the most ardent fan. Although geared to a select audience, nearly all baseball fans will find something about America’s pastime – now grown to global proportions – to hold their interest and to provoke discussion.


“Baseball is a game, sport, and source of entertainment for countless people in the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and across many other familiar and unfamiliar lands. As Dr. Robert Edgerton points out in this fascinating book, to see baseball only through a narrow set of lenses restricts us from fully appreciating its multiple and layered dimensions ... Given the times we live in – the shadows of terrorism, an unpopular war in the Middle East, and the looming threat of nuclear devastation – it may be opportune to establish baseball as America’s pastime once again. This book provides ample reason to do so.” – (from the Preface) Professor David T. Takeuchi, University of Washington

“[In this study], Dr. Robert Edgerton enters the terrain of the study of sports. He does not claim that the book is an anthropological study of ‘the national pastime,’ it nevertheless displays the anthropologist’s concern with how particular institutions come into being and how they come to be geographically dispersed. The author also pays attention to the place that baseball occupies in different cultures, since the sport has come to mean different things in different parts of the world ... One learns from this book that baseball is played by many different kinds of people for many different reasons, but, underneath all the variation, the sport has an intrinsic appeal to it. This is a well-told story, and Dr. Edgerton manages to hold our attention as he widens our knowledge of the sport by showing us how global baseball is.” – Richard T. Curley, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, University of California, Davis

“This book is a superb overview of the origins of baseball in America in the 19th century, building on earlier bat and ball games in England and earlier elsewhere, and its rapid spread around the world from that time until the present. Dr. Edgerton, an eminent anthropologist who played professional baseball himself, provides a cultural perspective in his world survey in which we learn not only about America’s ‘national pastime,’ but how it became so in the context of issues such as race, gender, and ethnicity … The intrusion of baseball into America’s popular culture has been profound, including examples such as a left-handed pitcher is a ‘south paw’ and to bunt is to ‘lay one down’ ... baseball spread around the world involves cultural factors ... We learn of fascinating ball players who have captured the imagination of their nations ...” – Professor Philip L. Kilbride, Bryn Mawr College

Table of Contents

Preface by David Takeuchi
1. “Baseball’s” Beginnings
2. Baseball in North America
3. Baseball in Asia
4. Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean
5. The Game in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania
6. European Baseball
7. Africa, the Middle East, and Elsewhere
8. Why Do They Play Baseball?

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