Thursday, July 31, 2014

Batter Up: Baseball in American Culture Celebrated at the College of Idaho

by Michael Strickland

"We love baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet," went the jingle in a 1975 advertisement. Being so integral to our culture, it is not surprising that baseball heads the list. The sport boasts household names such as babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson to today's big money stars and is widely considered America's pastime.


That is why I am happy to blog about  "Batter Up: Baseball in American Culture," a week of free public programming thatheppened July 13-17 as part of the Idaho Humanities Council's Summer Institute for Idaho Teachers. It took place at The College of Idaho.
According to the school's website: the institute included four public events:
Keynote speaker Jane Leavy led things off July 13 with her presentation "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood," which is based upon her New York Times bestselling book of the same name. 
"For some people baseball means a memory-of a certain dusty ball field on a certain summer day, or the first time they walked into a major league park and saw the perfect emerald playing field, writes Curt Smith, author of What Baseball Means to Me: A Celebration of Our National Pastime. "For some, baseball means one heartbreaking or heroic moment. And for others, it means a father, a friend, or an old flame who shared a game for a day or for a lifetime."
Such deeply held convictions made the speaker lineup at this event very special. It began on July 14, when nationally syndicated cartoonist Steve Moore presents Baseball in the Bleachers, a retrospective commentary on his favorite In the Bleachers baseball cartoons.
The next day, Award-winning poet and novelist Gary Gildner stepped to the plate with Getting Home: Baseball in Communist Poland, according to the College of Idaho. The discussion was about his book The Warsaw Sparks, which details his experience coaching a polish baseball team.
Batting cleanup was former Major League ballplayer Bill Buckner, who was interviewed on stage by Robert Santelli, executive director of The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and author of The Baseball Fan's Bucket List."
"Batter Up: Baseball in American Culture" was funded in part by the Idaho Humanities Council, a nonprofit organization that serves as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 
Filled with insight, richness, wonder, poetry and glory, baseball yields a profound influence on our culture. This symposium offered a fascinating portrait of the sports beautiful nuances. I commend C of I for paying homage to the sport, and love to join other fans on their ball park journeys.

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