|American Baseball Imperialism|
Armed American forces have fought have fought in eighty-five out of the 194 countries in the world (excluding the USA itself) or 44 percent of the total. Over the course of this amazing history, filled as it is with heroic liberations and a few tragic blunders, we Americans have had one undeniable achievement – we have exported the game of baseball around much of the world.
|Colosseum, Rome, IT|
|Abner Doubleday, US Army Vet|
American soldiers have taken baseball with them on campaign to some of the remotest corners of the earth. In the spring of 1919 the Polar Bear brigade was deployed by President Wilson to Archangel in northern Russia where they also played baseball.
|USS Texas vs USS Arizona|
Battleship Texas, La Porte, TX
A visitor to the Battleship Texas near Houston will find a poignant reminder of the cost of American Baseball Imperialism. In a display case there is a baseball, an old glove and a photo from a game played on April 15, 1936 on a Pacific island between the crew members of the Texas and the ill-fated Arizona that was sunk by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
By the time World War II broke out baseball was firmly ingrained in the national consciousness. Many famous players such as Stan Musial and Hank Greenberg volunteered to serve their country in the armed services. Ted Williams, or affectionately known as “Teddy Ballgame” in baseball circles, trained pilots as a Marine aviator in World War II. Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, joined the US Army Air Force in 1943. His Red Sox brother Dom served in the US Navy.
In Operation Torch, the 1942 invasion of North Africa, American troops would use challenge and countersign: 'Brooklyn?'. 'Dodgers.' 'Brooklyn?' 'Dodgers.'" Later sentries would bark the password challenge "Three?" and would be answered with the countersign: "Strikes!"
Some of the more fortunate American prisoners of war in German camps even had an opportunity to play some baseball while in captivity. Who can forget Steve McQueen throwing his baseball against the wall while stuck in the "cooler" in the film The Great Escape?
|Band of Brothers play ball!|
Americans even used baseball to exorcise the demons of Nazism in the very belly of the beast -- building a baseball stadium in the Hitler Youth Stadium at Nuremberg. The site of so many Nazi rallies was transformed into "Soldier's Field" and the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) World Series, featuring many major leaguers in uniform, was held there in September 1945.
Over and over again, countries that have been occupied by American forces have turned into baseball playing countries. In 1898 soon after Admiral Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay and just weeks after the arrival of American troops, the first baseball was played in the Philippines. In 1956 Bobby Balcena, of the Cincinnati Redlegs, became the first Filipino to play in the majors. Today the Filipinos have a league of their own featuring teams such as the Manila Sharks.
Baseball was first introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, an American educator in Tokyo. The American occupation of Japan which followed World War II helped to vastly spread the popularity of the game. Ichiro Suzuki initiated a flood of Japanese talent into major league baseball.
Major League baseball is expected to start playing spring training in Cuba in the Spring of 2016.
How many years will we need to wait before we see an Iraqi outfielder or an Afghan pitcher in the show? Allah knows that the Mariners could use some help!
Christopher Kelly, the co-author of America Invades: How We’ve Invaded or Been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth (www.americainvades.com) and Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World (www.italyinvades.com), lives in Seattle and London and is a Mariner fan.
Thanks San Diego Sports Domination...http://sandiegosportsdomination.com/2015/10/12/american-baseball-imperialism-by-christopher-kelly/
Thanks Houston Chronicle...http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Baseball-empire-6543803.php?t=7c51fe36c0&cmpid=email-premium
Thanks The Sports Bank...http://www.thesportsbank.net/boston-red-sox/baseball-imperialism-american-history-essay/
Thanks Ottawa Herald...http://www.ottawaherald.com/news/local/commentary-the-rise-of-american-baseball-imperialism/article_8a371fdc-46dc-5157-99ca-f801960f7e17.html
Thanks Star Telegram...http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/article41244471.html
Thanks North Jersey...http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-guest-writers/baseball-the-great-global-american-export-1.1442025
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