TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO FEBRUARY 12, 1809 IN HODGENVILLE, KENTUCKY – THE BIRTHDAY AND BIRTHPLACE ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Some believe the Civil War helped spread the game of Base Ball. The war brought men from all over the country together. In their leisure, they took up the game.
Others, such as Patricia Millen, author of From Pastime to Passion, say the Civil War more likely slowed down the spread of Base Ball, which had already become quite popular in the Northeast in the decades before the war, and spread like wildfire after the war ended.
According to George B. Kirsch, author of Baseball in Blue and Gray, “Abraham Lincoln’s rise to political prominence… occurred during the years when the game was achieving increasing popularity in all regions.
The earliest association between Lincoln and Base Ball appeared in a Currier & Ives political cartoon published in November 1860, shortly after Lincoln defeated three rivals to claim the presidency.
In the cartoon, each has a bat in his hands. Lincoln also has the ball and is saying, “Gentleman, if ever you should take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat to strike a fair ball and make a clean score and a home run.”
Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, by Edward J. Rielly
1995 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Michael Jordan’s foray into baseball ended on this date in 1995. He gave up his dream of becoming a major league baseball player after one minor league season. Jordan said a players’ strike, which was going on at the time, was blocking his development, “As a 32-year-old minor leaguer who lacks the benefit of valuable baseball experience over the past 15 years, I am no longer comfortable that there is a meaningful opportunity to continue my improvement.”
Thanks to the fact that Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf also owned the Chicago White Sox, when Jordan retired from basketball in 1994 he was given an opportunity to play for the Birmingham Barons, a White Sox Double-A farm team. He played one season:
Michael Jordan, Birmingham Barons – 1994
Home Runs 3
Stolen bases 30
While his stats were mediocre, 51 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases in 127 games against professional baseball players weren’t bad for a guy who hadn’t played baseball since he was a kid.
The basketball world now awaited the inevitable – Jordan’s return to the National Basketball Association where he led the Chicago Bulls to three championships before retiring in 1993 to try baseball. Michael Jordan returned to the NBA a month after he announced his retirement from baseball. He went on to lead the Bulls to three more world championships – 6 in all.
Chicago Tribune , March 11, 1995
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