"Baseball Americana" at the Library of Congress

On June 29th, the Library of Congress opens a yearlong exhibition “Baseball Americana” that celebrates baseball as a community, and at the same time the D.C. community gets ready to host Major League Baseball’s 89 th All-Star Game at Washington’s National Park on July 17th. The exhibition tells the story of the game’s origins, its contemporary character, how the game has stayed true to its traditions and areas where it has diverged. It also features ongoing conversations and connections between baseball’s rugged past and its refined present, along with showing how baseball has long forged a sense of community.

The exhibition is organized into five sections:

  • Origins and Early Days” features the development of baseball from its early forms, when Massachusetts Town Ball and the New York Game battled for supremacy, to the game we know today.

  • Who’s Playing?” encompasses the variety of participants and the diverse array of ball clubs that ruled the sandlot, barnstormed the country or occupied magnificent stadiums. Integral pieces of this story are the players who fought for the right to play as equals regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender.

  • At the Ballpark” examines traditions and changes in the architecture and accoutrements of baseball, fan interaction, music and media coverage.

  • The Promise of Baseball” explores the many ways that the sport gave poor players a path out of poverty and new immigrants have access and ability to help shape American culture, as well as the economics and business of baseball and how the game has been used for diplomacy beyond U.S. borders.

  • The Art and Science of Baseball” considers the constant and changing views of mastering the game, building a team, getting an edge, tracking statistics and the art of winning.

Some of the featured artifacts are the first handwritten and printed references to baseball in America, including the “Laws of Base Ball” from 1857, which historians have called the “Magna Carta” of the game; early rules of the game; historical baseball images, including a lithograph of prisoners of war playing baseball in captivity during the Civil War and photographs from baseball throughout the decades.

Other exhibit highlights include familiar players from some of the great collections of early baseball cards; Babe Ruth’s 1921 agreement with the New York Yankees; Dottie Key’s uniform from the Rockford Peaches; Jackie Robinson’s letter expressing his thanks and appreciation to baseball executive Branch Rickey after he broke baseball’s color barrier; beloved baseball movies and early flickering footage from the late 1800s; broadcasts of iconic baseball moments and rare interviews and clips of Hall of Fame players, including Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and others.

Kids will love the historical images, baseball cards, a baseball card-themed photo station, a touch-and-feel wall with old and new baseball equipment, interactive trivia spinners and even Babe Ruth’s shoes. All will experience how baseball has created a community for generations.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library of Congress has a series of special programs including family activities, gallery talks, film screenings, panel discussions, educational materials and teacher workshops, docent-led tours and more. “Baseball Americana” will be on view in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition will be free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. loc.gov/baseball

Aim for the All-Stars!

All-Star Week in D.C. is July 13-17. There’s a lot more that goes on in addition to the actual All-Star Game:

  • All-Star FanFest – an interactive baseball festival where fans will have the opportunity to step into batting cages, get autographs from MLB legends, take photos with the World Series Trophy and much more.

  • PLAY BALL PARK – a free, outdoor space down at The Yards to play pick-up or participate in organized games. MLB and its programming partners provide fun, engaging and educational activities for youth baseball and softball players and their families – all in the backdrop of the Midsummer Classic.

  • All-Star Sunday Doubleheader – the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will showcase the superstars of tomorrow followed by the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.

  • Home Run Derby – showcases the game’s top sluggers for a chance to be crowned Home Run Derby champion.

  • All-Star Game – featuring the world’s best baseball players on the field under the lights in the nation’s capital.

For more information see allstargame.com.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

  • Bethesda Big Train

    The Bethesda Big Train, now in its 20th season, is a collegiate summer baseball team. Most of its players are drawn from the college ranks. The team is a member of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League (CRCBL), and derives its name from the nickname of Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson, who was a Bethesda resident for 10 years. The Big Train plays its home games at Shirley Povich Field. bigtrain.org

  • Potomac Nationals

    The Potomac Nationals are a Minor League Baseball team of the Carolina League and the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Notable alumni include Barry Bonds, Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Andy Pettitte. They play their home games at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium, 7 County Complex Ct., Woodbridge, VA 22191. milb.com/potom

  • The Bowie Baysox

    The Bowie Baysox are a Minor League Baseball team located in Bowie, Maryland. They are the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles and play in the Eastern League. The team’s home ballpark is Prince George’s Stadium. baysox.com

  • District of Columbia Grays

    A member of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, the DC Grays are named in honor of the Negro League champion Homestead Grays. The mission of the Grays is to provide opportunities for college players, particularly African-American players, to develop their skills against some of the top college players in the country, and give inner city youth a chance to learn the great game of baseball. Their home field is at the Nationals Youth Academy; 3675 Ely Pl. SE, Washington, D.C. 20019. dcgrays.com

  • Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, NY

    Hall of Fame Weekend 2018 will be held July 27-30 in Cooperstown, NY with the annual Induction Ceremony to be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 29 at the Clark Sports Center. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee on Dec. 10, will be joined on stage by Baseball Writers’ Association of America electees Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. The weekend will include many family programs, including the July 28 Parade of Legends and the July 30 Legends of the Game Roundtable discussion event with the inductees. While a trip to Cooperstown is simply not complete without a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the town offers a handful of other museums to enjoy, including Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmers Museum. baseballhall.org/visit/hall-of-fame-weekend.