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Word Count: 2,381
Passing beyond cliche to near triteness baseball has long been described as the national pasttime and Americas game These appellations are of course intended to be complimentary even self-congratulatory But the applause rings hollow when one considers the context in which the comments were made the acclaims turn to bitter irony when the term Americas game is examined in less flattering light For indeed baseball is Americas game It was invented here flourished here and has been exported all around the world It is Americas oldest and most important professional sport It is supposed to reflect American values such as fairness honesty and democracy As a national phenomenon baseball has long served to mirror cultural currents and national attitudes And from its inception baseballs racial attitudes have mirrored those of society To understand the history of race relations in Americas game is to better understand the history of race in America Baseball was not Americas only game In the beginning Following the rules and principles created by Alexander Joy Cartwright the first official game of baseball was played on June 19 1846 the upstart New York Nine soundly defeated the established Knickerbocker Base Ball Club 23-1 in four innings For those of you who still hew to the completely false Abner Doubleday story my apologies The phrase Manifest Destiny was first used in Congress that year A month before the first game on May 11 war was declared against Mexico Ether was used for the first time in dentistry And with the ratification of the Oregon Agreement tensions between Great Britain and the United States were finally relieved as the 49th parallel was accepted as the boundary between the US and Canada westward from the Rocky Mountains to Puget Sound Slavery was entrenched as the law of the land but thousands of African Americans found their way north to freedom most via the Underground Railroad Slavery that peculiar institution
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