We play it as kids, we watch it and listen to it as adults, and we pass down our love of the Game through generations. Baseball is an American family tradition.

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This Game is closely tied to us in a very personal way, but what you may not realize is how much it is also tied to history. Often referred to as America"s National Pastime, baseball has had a very active role in the shaping of this nation.

From the Civil War to Civil Rights and all points in between and beyond, the game of baseball supports and reflects many aspects of American life, from culture to economics and technological advances. It inspires movements, instills pride and even heals cities.

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This story is told at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where the plaques and artifacts all have something to say about the special place baseball holds in the hearts of Americans.

These are just a few of the places where the history of our National Pastime and American history have crossed...


The "Taking the Field" exhibit gives an in-depth look at baseball"s beginnings. (Mitch Wojnarowicz/National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)


Opening days like this one at the Polo Grounds have been a community tradition for well over a century. (B. J. Falk/Library of Congress)

The Civil War

The first professional baseball games were played in the wake of a young nation"s darkest days. The amateur version, however, has roots that reach back decades before the war began.

Reporters described baseball as a mania back in the 1840s; the sport was already established as a popular pastime when Civil War soldiers on both sides played it as a diversion. Many veterans took the game home after the war and it became a great unifier in the years that followed the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history.

Though since disproved, the invention of the sport was originally believed to have occurred in Cooperstown and was credited to Civil War hero Abner Doubleday. Doubleday was at Fort Sumter in South Carolina when the first shots were fired in defense of the Union. He went on to rise to the rank of Major General and served with distinction during the Battle of Gettysburg.


Civil War hero Abner Doubleday was once credited as the inventor of American baseball. (Mathew B. Brady/Library of Congress)