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This week in the Civil War for November 24, 1863

Baseball And The American Civil War

Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York was the first organized baseball club. 1859 Photo: Knickerkbocker Baseball Club and Excelsior Base Ball Club

The club first started play in 1842 (playing in Manhattan), but it was not until 1845 that the club formally organized.

The American Civil War was actually a boon for the fledgling sport of base ball (so described as two words in most publications until the change to a single word somewhere between 1910 and 1930).  Although the NABBP was founded by clubs from the New York City area, base ball was being played in the north and the south during the War Between the States.  The movements of soldiers over great distances, as well as the exchange of prisoners, helped spread the game’s rules and style of play over a wide area of the country and among men from a variety of cultural backgrounds.  The game provided soldiers with a means of escape from the hardships of war, and in so doing, a foundation was planted for the sport to become America’s pastime.  The sport allowed a further kinship to be developed between the men, the importance of teamwork was accentuated, and the boosts in morale that the game afforded helped to weave the game of base ball into the lives of Civil War soldiers. 

A private in the 10thMassachusetts wrote:

“The parade ground has been a busy place for a week or so past, ball-playing having become a mania in camp.  Officer and men forget, for a time, the differences in rank and indulge in the invigorating sport with a schoolboy’s ardor.”

From the Civil War Parlor

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