Sunday, July 28, 2013

Davis-area Farmers & Baseball Mania in the late 19th Century (132)


This is a second post on the theme: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

In the first post on this idea, I highlighted reports of citizen reactions to the Winters-centered earthquakes of 1892 (post number 117, May 12, 2013).

This post associates the same idea with much the same period of Davis history, only this time dealing with the reported rapid rise of interest in the game of baseball among Davis area farmers.

According to American agricultural historian David Vaught in his book The Farmers' Game, the sons of failed gold miners turned wheat famers faced catastrophe as the grain market collapsed and they needed to take up fruit cultivation.

This major ag-economic shift conduced them to turn from the favorite sport of their fathers, which was horse racing, to the culturally more appropriate new game of baseball, which he claims fit better with fruit farming. This is, at least, my simplistic version of Vaught’s thesis, which is in his Chapter Two.

I reproduce some passages from that chapter in order to give Davis history buffs the flavor of his thesis. These passages are, of course, no substitute for the entire chapter--and the book itself--which I encourage people to read.

On the surface of it, Vaught’s theorizing may seem far-fetched. But, bear in mind that the nature and rate of social change makes it hard for us to be certain we accurately perceive those who came before us--even those who came before us not very long ago.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

1. The Davisvillle Oletas

2. Transition Starts

3. Transition Continues

4. Farmers

5. Baseball Structure

6. Gambling-1

7. Gambling-2

8. Illusion of Mastering Reality

9. Fitting the Times