Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/122

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ject more grave than ball playing, while Southerners, believing that the President's call to arms meant the invasion of the "Sunny South," prepared to give their Northern visitors a less hospitable reception than that which had been accorded to the Excelsiors a few months previous at Baltimore. Thoughts of contests on fields of sport were banished from the minds of men in every section, while all looked forward to a greater, fiercer struggle that should be decided by the arbitrament of arms on fields of battle.

And yet, while the game of ball, during those four years of fratricidal strife, was held in abeyance—the attention of its votaries being more deeply engaged in the game of war—it was nevertheless undergoing an evolution of greatest import to its future. For, during those years of unhappy conflict, on both sides of the line "Yanks" and "Johnnies" were playing ball and laying the foundation for a game which, when war's alarms should cease, would be national in its spirit and national in its perpetuity.

No human mind may measure the blessings conferred by the game of Base Ball on the soldiers of our Civil War. A National Game? Why, no country on the face of the earth ever had a form of sport with so clear a title to that distinction. Base Ball had been born in the brain of an American soldier. It received its baptism in bloody days of our Nation's direst danger. It had its early evolution when soldiers, North and South, were striving to forget their foes by cultivating, through this grand game, fraternal friendships with comrades in arms. It had its