Stanton Green, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, was a featured guest on “How to be American,” a podcast series produced by the Tenement Museum in New York City’s Lower East Side. Green—an expert on the history of baseball and American culture—provided commentary on the origins of stickball on the Lower East Side. Stickball, which is a street game adapted from baseball, is rooted in the history of America’s immigrants, Green explained.
Green has been studying the anthropology of baseball since the ’90s.
Citing the words from a British parable published in 1744, “A Little Pretty Pocket Book,” the first published reference of baseball, Green noted, “The end of the parable said the ultimate goal of baseball was to make it back home. Home is just incredibly symbolic, and that I think ties a lot into the issue of immigrants and baseball…making a new home. Making it home was basically I think a metaphor for becoming American. So, baseball has been a way of finding home, I think. And baseball was played throughout American history like no other game.”
Green noted that baseball as a professional sport as we know it was invented in the U.S., but its origin dates back to Europe as early as the 1600s—possibly earlier— as a children’s game.
“We think of baseball in terms of the modern game on the diamond, and that’s American,” Green noted.