The professional ranks of actors, musicians and artists have always contained large numbers of lovers of Base Ball, and many of them have divided their time between devotion to their arts and to the game. DeWolf Hopper's reciting of "Casey at the Bat" into world-wide fame has been spoken of. The cartoons of Davenport and other famed artists have contributed great pleasure to enthusiasts. John Philip Sousa, the popular bandmaster, not only has an organized team among his instrumentalists but occasionally writes upon the subject. The Base Ball Magazine of February, 1909, contains a very interesting contribution from the pen of the great band-
Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/497
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AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME
game, and never was ball playing so popular as it is at present. We have national leagues of all kinds. Every city of consequence has its Base Ball club, a member of some league or other. Semi-professional clubs are numerous. Big business houses maintain amateur clubs. Every vacant lot has its ball, players organized and unorganized. The public streets are occupied by ball tossers who avail themselves of every opportunity to throw a ball across the street to some one else quite as eager as themselves. Base Ball is the topic of universal conversation, and keeping the percentage of the several clubs is making us a nation of mathematicians. On the streets, in the alleys, in business offices, in public resorts, in private houses, at morning, noon and night, young and old, rich and poor, are discussing Base Ball and arguing in favor of their particular favorites. The boy or girl of 15 who does not know the batting record of every member of the local league is looked on with pity. A game at Red Elm Park attracts 7,000 people who pay to get in. People go wild with excitement as they did long ago when they watched the contests in the arena in the Circus Maximus, in the stadium, or as they did who lined the road from Marathon to Athens to watch the footrunners. Bourke Cockran drew an audience of 6,000 people during a time of political excitement, but they paid no admission. Demosthenes, risen from the dust of ages, and advertised to deliver a new philippic, could not draw a paid audience of 7,000. The country is Base Ball crazy, and it is a pleasant form of dementia. The game is harmless and healthy, and those who witness it feel a relief in leaving dingy offices or dull workshops and going where they can fill their lungs with pure air and shout to their heart's content."