March 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM
In the early 1960s baseball was gripped by homerun fever. The champion New York Yankees had a1961 line-up where Mickey Mantel and Roger Maris both tried to beat Babe Ruth’s homerun record. All this and more is discussed in a program called We’re Talking Baseball- The Golden Age of Baseball by Dr. James Kane which is being presented by the South Plainfield Public Library at 2PM on Saturday, March 15th. Registration is not required and the program is free. The Library is at 2484 Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield 07080 (908-754-7885908-754-7885).
Of course there is much more history to the sport than this one event. Baseball is called the “national pastime”. Originating in England with a game called base-ball or rounders, the game made its way to the New World early on and by the 1700s was played throughout the colonies. But rules were codified only in the mid-1800s and the first game played under these rules was here in New Jersey, in Hoboken in fact on June 19th, 1846.
In 1857 sixteen New York area clubs formed the National Association of Base Ball Players and the next year games were played in Queens, NY that actually charged admission. These games were between the Brooklyn all stars and the All Stars of New York (remember at this time Brooklyn was an independent city). In 1869 the first completely professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed. Seven years later saw the formation of the National League (the oldest surviving major league) and in 1887 softball was invented as an indoor/winter version of the summer game.
Growth continued over the years as in 1901 when the American League was established and then two years later the first World Series was played. Almost twenty years later they first major league commissioner was elected (Kenesaw Mountain Landis) and the National Negro League was established.
In 1936 the first elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame were made (inductees included Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth) and three years later Little League Baseball was organized in Pennsylvania.
The war brought other innovations including a women’s league (1943-1954) to replace the many men drafted into uniform. And the 1950s saw the very controversial move of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to the West Coast. The Library also has a large number of books on baseball (both technical aspects of play and well known figures) as well as Ken Burn’s series Baseball and the additional DVD Tenth Inning.
All can be checked out and we hope to see you here this Saturday.