We know today that sometimes things go “viral” on the internet. Maybe they are funny videos. Maybe it’s a particularly interesting story or a shocking photo. However, memes and “viral” phenomena are not new things. They’ve always happened. And, to prove that, researchers at Northeastern have compiled a database of things that were going viral back in the 19th century, when newspapers and magazines were the main news sources. This nicely lines up with the time where baseball became a national sport, so I decided to take a look. While time and tide (and the fact that there was a whole Civil War and Reconstruction going on) means that it’s likely the database isn’t complete and doesn’t have nearly as much baseball as you might think, I definitely found some fascinating things.
One of the great perks of SABR membership is access online to The Sporting News’ archives. While it now is dedicated to all sports, for a good chunk of it’s earlier history it was almost entirely focused on baseball. This allows us to see how players, ideas, teams and even countries first got the attention of the baseball press. So, similar to my article on the firstreferences to Japanese baseball, here’s a look at the first references to baseball in the Caribbean in the Sporting News archives…. just in time for the Caribbean World Series in February!
One of the great places on the baseball-related internet is the Baseball Biography Project run by SABR (the Society of American Baseball Research). It is exactly what it says it is: a project to put up biographies of baseball figures. Most of them are short-but-sweet, but some are longer, more in-depth