Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime

Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime

Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime

Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime

Synopsis

A televised baseball game from Puerto Rico, Japan, or even Cuba might look a lot like the North American game. Beneath the outward similarities, however--the uniforms and equipment and basic rules--there is usually a very different history and culture influencing the nuances of the sport. These differences are what interest the authors of "Baseball without Borders," a book about America's national pastime going global and undergoing instructive, entertaining, and sometimes curious changes in the process. The contributors, leading authorities on baseball in the fourteen nations under consideration, look at how the game was imported--how it took hold and developed, how it is organized, played, and followed--and what these local and regional trends and features say about the sport's place in particular cultures.

Organized by region--Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific--and written by journalists, historians, anthropologists, and English professors, these original essays reflect diverse perspectives and range across a refreshingly wide array of subjects: from high school baseball in Japan and Little League in Taiwan to fan behavior in Cuba and the politics of baseball in China and Korea.

Excerpt

George Gmelch

A televised baseball game from Puerto Rico, Japan, or even Cuba looks much like the North American game. the players use the same gloves and bats, wear similar uniforms, and play by the same basic rules. But beneath the outward similarity there is usually a very different history, and a culture influencing the nuances of the sport. Even how players and their fans think about the game and what they value may not be the same. As Joseph Reaves notes about baseball in Asia, “It can look so similar and somehow feel so different.”

The essays in this collection explore such differences in fourteen baseball-playing nations. the essays are diverse not only in the cultures they describe, but also in the perspectives adopted by their authors who range from anthropologists to historians, from journalists to English professors, with a few independent scholars as well. the essays are also diverse because I placed few restrictions on what they chose to write about. I suggested some topics, such as the origins of baseball in their country, its development, and how local versions of the game differ from that played in the United States, but otherwise the contributors were free to write about whatever aspects of the sport they thought American baseball fans (the intended audience) would find interesting. Some of the essays deal exclusively with the professional game abroad while some, especially where there is not a strong professional league, also look at the amateur level.

I could have organized the essays in several ways. One way might have been by the level of baseball’s development, such as . . .

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