Published March 22, 2023
Written by Adams
Photography by Simply American
Sports have long been a part of American culture and no sport is more closely linked with the American identity than baseball. Opening day is almost upon us here in Ottawa County.
The smell of fresh cut grass… the arguments of dill pickle versus bacon flavored sunflower seeds filling the air… trying to find the right laundry detergent to get white pants clean… Let’s play ball!
Baseball is an American family tradition. Often referred to as America’s pastime, baseball had a very active role in the shaping of this nation. From the Civil War to Civil Rights and everywhere in between, the game has healed cities and brought unity to our country on multiple occasions. There are many moments in which baseball and culture intersected.
The first professional games were played in the wake of some of the nation’s darkest days. Civil War soldiers on both sides played baseball as a diversion.
227 major leaguers served in various branches of the military during World War I. And more than 500 major leaguers and 37 Hall of Famers served in World War II. Many of them sacrificing the prime years of their careers. During this time the All American Girls Professional Baseball League was established. Baseball was deemed a game necessary to boost morale during difficult times.
Baseball led the way on integration. Jackie Robinson became a key symbol of equality during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s.
During many of the difficult times America has faced, baseball has offered a sense of comfort–think of the amazing Game 3 of the World Series after 9/11 and the 2013 Red Sox World Series win that proved “Boston Strong” after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Next month in Ottawa County, our many local little leagues will start their seasons. Allendale starts the week of April 17th. Georgetown and Zeeland will be painting the corners on April 22nd. Hudsonville’s first crack of the bat will be on April 25th. Holland Little League is looking at an April 29th opening day. And June 10th will be the day Grand Haven kids jump the foul lines to take the field.
Baseball and culture have intersected in very powerful ways—but the most magical thing about it is how it unifies. Whether the country after a tragedy or just families at the local park, communities come together while watching the kids take the field.
Here at Simply American, we value our American history and culture. All the way down to our sports. We want to wish all the kids and families participating in any sport: Good luck!