By 1910, Albert Spalding had been a Major League Baseball player and manager, and had launched the Spalding line of sports equipment. At 60 years old, just five years before he would die, he gave the Times Magazine this wonderful and lengthy answer about why he loves baseball in response to a question about the psychology of baseball.
“The psychology of baseball?” he said thoughtfully. “I confess that the ‘psychology of baseball’ is a new one on me.
“I take it that you are trying to find out what effect the game has on the mind, and what effect the mind has on the game. The general impression among those who do not know, and, although there are several million people in this country who do know, still, there remain a few who don’t, is that baseball is simply a form of physical exercise which is interesting to watch and to take part in. Those who have played the game know well that it is more — much more. They know that it is quite as much a mental as it is a physical exercise.
“As a matter of plain fact, it is much more a mental exercise than a mere physical sport. There is really no other form of outdoor sport which constantly demands such accurate co-ordination between the mind and body as this National game of ours. And that is rather fine, when you come to think about it.
“Baseball elevates, and it fits the American character. The emotional and moral as well as the physical side of a man’s nature are brought into play by baseball. I know of no other medium which, as completely as baseball, joins the physical, mental, emotional, and moral sides of a man’s composite being into a complete and homogeneous whole. And there is nothing better calculated than baseball to give a growing boy self-pose, and self-reliance, confidence, inoffensive and entirely proper aggressiveness, general manliness. Baseball is a man maker.”
If you’re a baseball fan, it’s well worth reading the whole article. Mr. Spalding explains how baseball helps shape a man morally as well as physically, and how the skills translate to a man’s later life and business affairs. His wife and nephew both weigh in on the topic, too.
In related news, The Onion has an editorial this week by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay called “If I Had One Piece Of Advice For Today’s Youth, It Would Be To Throw A Baseball Really, Really Well.”
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BASEBALL Discussed by A. G. SPALDING: The Game Elevates and Fits the American Character — It Brings Into Play the Emotional and Moral as Well as the Physical Side of Man’s Nature. (PDF)
From November 13, 1910