Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/566

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not. I do not believe there is a single player in the major leagues who had not demonstrated a peculiar fitness for the game, and made a reputation as a skillful player among boy associates, before he was fourteen.

"Yes; certainly the game has its psychology—a part of the fine, healthy, undegenerate psychology of the whole Nation. The professional Base Ball player is no thug trained to brutality like the prize-fighter, no half-developed little creature like the jockey, no cruel coward like the bull fighter. He is the natural development of the American boy's inborn love of manly, skillful, outdoor sport—sport busying brain and body and not harming any one or anything. The average boy who loves Base Ball is not the sort of boy who loves to go off with a gun intent on killing some poor bird. Base Ball has done a lot to keep the Yankee lad from being brutal.

"And he revels in Base Ball, does this American boy—good luck to him! No one ever has to urge the normal Yankee lad to participate in this clean game. He takes to it as a duck to water. He knows its rudiments before he learns to read and write. His father played Base Ball before him, and, of this generation, most of his forefathers. And it is a sport which parents may encourage, for it is neither dangerous nor demoralizing.

"The professional Base Ball player is doing more for his native country than any one engaged in any form of sport has ever done for any country in the past. They say horse racing has resulted in improvement in horse breeding; well, Base Ball has done something better, it has resulted in improvement in man breeding. Aside from giving outdoor recreation to the public, the professional Base Ball player is, by his example, encouraging the boy to healthy sport with which not one unpleasant feature is connected. Little gambling is associated with Base Ball. When the game first started as a professional sport there was an effort made to saddle it with all the gambling features which beset the race tracks—pool-selling and

all—and from 1870 to, say, 1875, the gamblers practically had control of our professional Base Ball. Every Base Ball park had its betting ring. This made decent people stay away, and interest in the game fell to a low ebb. Every error made was charged to crookedness upon the player's part, and not always, probably, unjustly. William A. Hulbert, of Chicago, had become interested in the game, and I explained this all to him. I was actually afraid the game would have to go. He wanted me to take my winning club on from Boston to Chicago, and I told him that I would if he'd clean out the gamblers, and not otherwise. He said he'd try, and he did try, to mighty good effect. That saved the game, undoubtedly, and in the winter of the following year the National League was organized, and has been getting more and more important to the life of all America with the passage of each day since then.