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Baseball did a better job from 1970-2007 of reflecting the nation’s habits, preferences and prejudices than it did of shaping or celebrating them. Your donation to the Institute in support of The Imaginative Conservative is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Football has run into its own massive set of problems. Romo is thoughtful, funny and exceptionally talented, and if the playoff beard movement for which he is the latest poster boy is somewhat incongruous with the traditional, decades-old sponsorship Gillette lends to the MLB playoffs, so be it. Is there not a poetic symbol in the new meaning—our meaning—of “Ruth hits Homer”? Increasingly, the game is reaching out to new fans and new fan bases. ), Jacques Martin Barzun (1907–2012) was a French-American historian known for his studies of the history of ideas and cultural history. There has never been a good player who was dumb. Labor strife and low-grade fraud (read: steroids) pockmarked that era, too. Here is scholarship that takes effort on the part of the outsider, but it is so bred into the native that it never becomes a dreary round of technicalities. Comment on this Article Via Your Facebook Account Comment on this Article Via Your Disqus Account Meanwhile, Michael Jordan happened, then ESPN, 9/11, and the explosion of the digital age, all of which contributed to baseball ceding its place at the forefront of sports in the U.S. to football. Also, comments containing web links or block quotations are unlikely to be approved. “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. Evaluating the 2019 Predictions & Projections, Sabermetrics Starter Cards: An Introduction to Advanced Stats (Updated 9/24/19), Casey at the Bat 2019: A Modern Retelling. The ball is not shuttling in a confined space, as in tennis. Now Michael Murray has carefully selected eighty of Barzun's most inventive, accomplished, and insightful essays, and compiled them in one impressive volume. Please consider donating now. The two cities in which the Series us being played this year also illustrate baseball’s reemergence as a viable mechanism for community betterment and bringing people together. The pitcher, on the other hand, is the wayward man of genius, whom others will direct. Under the hot sun, the minutes creep as a deliberate pitcher tries his feints and curves for three strikes called, or conversely walks a threatening batter. Barzun believed decadence was threatening Western culture very gravely, though I have not read anything in which he directly linked the declining influence of baseball to that perceived societal degradation. He helped revive the reputation of composer Hector Berlioz with the publication in 1950 of, Woke Baseball Forgets Life’s Most Important Lesson: “It’s Not About You”, Judging the Black Sox: The Baseball Scandal of 1919, Neighborhoods: A Forgotten School of Family & Social Flourishing, “Persuasion’s” Principles for Popping the Question, It’s Giving Tuesday: Please Make a Gift to Us Today, The Democratic Impulse of the Scholars in Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”, Europe Must Not Succumb to the Soros Network, Puddleglum, Jeremy Bentham, & the Grand Inquisitor, Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and the Immortality of Art. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. 6. —From God’s Country and Mine: A Declaration of Love Spiced With a Few Harsh Words, p. 159-163. The league even participated, in its way, in the real-estate bubble problem, as most teams milked public financing for new stadia from their state and local governments, artificially inflating local property values but failing to deliver the promised economic boosts. Basketball is a game so markedly different in what it endeavors to offer that it would feel strange to even draw direct comparison or contrast between it and baseball. The big league games are too fast for the beginner and the newspapers don’t help. Otherwise, the team is elegance itself in its striped knee breeches and loose shirts, colored stockings and peaked caps. Jacques Martin Barzun (November 30, 1907 – October 25, 2012) was a French-born American historian.Focusing on ideas and culture, he wrote about a wide range of subjects, including baseball and classical music, and is best known as a philosopher of education. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,” wrote cultural historian and baseball bard Jacques Barzun in 1954. Jacques Martin Barzun (November 30, 1907 – October 25, 2012) was a French-born American historian. Blows are similarly varied. Romo embodies cool on the mound, and although athletes should never be used as role models for personal comportment, his background makes him a worthwhile example for young people like him, of whom there are millions. I don’t wonder the spectators take to drink. It is inherently more competitive in terms of balance within games than its competitors for top billing in sports. He went to a high school in California and college in Alabama. One man to each base, and then the free lance, the trouble shooter, the movable feast for the eyes, whose motion animates the whole foreground. It’s like life played out on a field.” Juliana Hatfield. Jacques Martin Barzun was a French-American historian known for his studies of the history of ideas and cultural history. Beef and bulk and mere endurance count for little, judgment and daring for much. ''Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,'' Jacques Barzun, the social commentator, wrote more than a quarter of a … (Gifts may be made online or by check mailed to the Institute at 9600 Long Point Rd., Suite 300, Houston, TX, 77055. Share with your friends. Jacques Martin Barzun (1907–2012) was a French-American historian known for his studies of the history of ideas and cultural history. There remains much work to do, but the time is ripe for baseball to regain the prominence it enjoyed 60 years ago, when Barzun praised it so, and I feel it would be good for our culture as a whole if that happens. Jacques Barzun. And just as baseball may have once been a national expression of civility, football maybe pointing up our new churlishness,” Columbia University historian Jacques Barzun said in 1976. The ball is not the center of interest as in those vulgar predatory games like football, basketball, and polo. But that is nothing compared with batting in an empty lot, or catching at twilight, with a fella who’ll let you use his mitt when your palms get too raw. This points to the fact that near the end of any struggle life asks for more than is needful in order to clinch success. Who has ever seen a baseball fan drinking within the meaning of the act? He is the psychologist and historian for the staff—or else his signals will give the opposition hits. Happy the man in the bleachers. "Jacques was the Babe Ruth of Romanticism," says Barzun's friend and colleague, Prof. Henry Graff. Baseball takes its mystic nine and scatters them wide. He found baseball as one of the last vestiges of the American‘s puritan origins. The gods decree a heavyweight match only once in a while and a national election only every four years, but there is a World Series with every revolution of the earth around the sun. Baseball is with you every day, six months out of the year, seven if your team is very good. I said baseball was Greek. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Barzun was by no means a man to be remembered primarily for his opinions on baseball. 7. The world doesn’t know or care and couldn’t compete if it wanted to, but since it’s us children having fun, why, the world is our stage. “Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper not eternal bronze: Let that … He wrote about a wide range of subjects, including baseball, mystery novels, and classical music, and was also known as a philosopher of education. It is graphic and choreographic. He died Thursday in San Antonio at the age of 104. The essay came two years after Bobby Thompson’s pennant-winning home run, a watershed moment that epitomized a decade-long ascension by the sport to absolute preeminence in American cultural life. True. He was also known as a philosopher of education. What a brilliant invention is his role despite its exposure to ludicrous lapses! It’s too bad the chest protector and shinpads are so hot and at a distance so like corrugated cardboard. Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball. It is the recognition of Chance that knows no argument. And there is no set pace. They follow boxing and wrestling, burlesque and vaudeville (when available), professional football and hockey. Comments that are critical of an essay may be approved, but comments containing ad hominem criticism of the author will not be published. He’s now famous for his dugout hijinks and his scraggly beard, but is also singularly stylish on the mound. For those whom civilized play doesn’t fully satisfy, there will be provided a scapegoat in a blue suit-the umpire, yell-proof and even-handed as justice, which he demonstrates with outstretched arms when calling “Safe!”. Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game—and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams. The big league games are too fast for the beginner and newspapers don’t help. He wants all his senses sharp and clear, his eyesight above all. Compared to a real game it's in the chrysalis state." 's play baseball, some of your brighter fellows will find a way to make cricket come out. The rules keep pace with this imaginative creation so rich in allusions to real life. Barzun was by no means a man to be remembered primarily for his opinions on baseball. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,” wrote cultural historian and baseball bard Jacques Barzun. Three kids in a back yard are enough to create the same quality of drama. Jacques Barzun Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game and do it by watching first some high-school or small-town teams From God’s Country and Mine, by Jacques Barzun Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams. Baseball was a mechanism of inclusion. The value of his headpiece is shown by the ironmongery worn to protect it. Baseball was just another product for some time after the 1994 strike, often not a very good product, and never a really important product on any level, except perhaps in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He is surrounded no doubt by mere talent, unless one excepts that transplanted acrobat, the shortstop. Every part of baseball equipment is inherently attractive and of a most enchanting functionalism. Just because they’re far apart, the outfield can’t dream or play she-loves-me-not with daisies. Baseball Training For 2020 Practice For Success! Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? By Jacques Barzun 1954 This remains truer of baseball than any other sport, despite the ever-expanding Wild Card-based postseason, a measure I hate but one that doesn’t compromise the essential integrity of the game. It was a cultural declaration of independence. "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game - and do it by watching first so..." The game should be fun, and the greatest number of fans will be reached if those who cover baseball marry heady, keen analysis with genuine (not merely convenient) human interest and an artful reminder of what it is that makes this game an instructive sort of joy. A victory has to be won, not snatched. With subjects ranging from history to baseball to crime novels, A Jacques Barzun Reader is a feast for any reader. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. In one of his thought-provoking books, writer/historian Jacques Barzun argued with passion against the arrogant materialism that became so pervasive by the turn of the century… the 19th century.. Above all, they thrill in unison with their fellow man the country over by watching baseball. Here, I want to turn to the late Jacques Barzun, who died this past fall. “Baseball is more than a game. Perhaps now, even as he has left his legacy in our hands, the game that declined in visibility over the second half of Barzun’s life will rise again, and bring part of its culture back upward, too. In the face of so much joy, one can only ask, Were you there when Dogface Joe parked the pellet beyond the pale? Opportunity swings from one side to the other because innings alternate quickly, keep up spirit in the players, interest in the beholders. The obituary was featured in … A man cannot have too much leather about him; and a catcher’s mitt is just the right amount for one hand. Barzun also wrote that writing accessibly to a general audience was a “responsibility of scholars.” That’s important for baseball writers to remember. Jacques Barzun, a pioneering cultural historian, reigning public intellectual and longtime Ivy League professor who became a best-selling author in his 90s with the acclaimed "From Dawn to Decadence," Baseball is a kind of collective chess … All comments are moderated and must be civil, concise, and constructive to the conversation. Funeral Home Services for Jacques are being provided by Sunset North Funeral Home. But the batter is not invariably a tailor’s dummy. That baseball fitly expresses the powers of the nation’s mind and body is a merit separate from the glory of being the most active, agile, varied, articulate, and brainy of all group games. In a hundredth of a second there may be a hissing rocket down right field, a cloud of dust over first base – the bleachers all a-yell—a double play, and the other side up to bat. A group baseball blog by fans of the Effectively Wild podcast, They’re Not Just for Baseball! Its Olympics generate anger, not unity, and its interstate politics follow no rules that a people can grasp. "Bernard Shaw," in A Jacques Barzun Reader : Selections from his works (2002), p. 231; I have always been — I think any student of history almost inevitably is — a cheerful pessimist. Either of them, do they know that, as we hear it from culture historian Jacques Barzun, to know America, you must know baseball? Barzun wrote those words in a 1953 essay ascetically entitled “Baseball.” They rang unassailably true then. Accuracy and speed, the practiced eye and hefty arm, the mind to take in and readjust to the unexpected, the possession of more than one talent and the willingness to work in harness without special orders—these are the American virtues that shine in baseball. Required fields are marked *. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. It was six years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and helped ignite a struggling Civil Rights movement. About Jacques Barzun Jacques Martin Barzun (1907–2012) was a French-American historian known for his studies of the history of ideas and cultural history. Barzun also wrote about baseball — and perhaps his most famous quote is inscribed on the walls of that sport's Hall of Fame: "Whoever wants to know the heart and soul of America had better learn baseball." We find also our American innocence in calling “World Series” the annual games between the winners in each big league. Like all other institutional entertainment in this country, baseball has brought down a kind of curtain between itself and its fans. Keep in mind that essays represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Imaginative Conservative or its editor or publisher. The Imaginative Conservative is sponsored by The Free Enterprise Institute (a U.S. 501(c)3 tax exempt organization). And the next day in the paper: learned comment, statistical summaries, and the verbal imagery of meta-euphoric experts. “The key to winning baseball game is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.” Earl Weaver. Barzun’s famous … He felt, rightly, that immigrants and outsiders in the sprawling culture of the post-war nation had a single best window through which to learn what it would take to effectively assimilate. It’s more like an emergency happening at a distance than a game. Games don’t feel like cataclysm in action, until they should. Your email address will not be published. Nor does baseball go to the other extreme of solitary whanging and counting stopped on the brink of pointlessness, like golf. The featured image is courtesy of Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. It is of and for our century. It seems to me that is changing again, and for the better this time. In Troy, New York, the game scheduled for 2 P.M. will break no bones, yet it will be a real fight between Southpaw Dick and Red Larsen. Players struggle to relate to fans, and so are often less relatable than their predecessors in the other direction. The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Tennis belongs to the individualistic past – a hero, or at most a pair of friends or lovers, against the world. Romo, like an exponentially growing number of baseball’s Hispanic stars, is American-born, the son of two Mexican immigrants. Better Know a Ballplayer: Henry Rodriguez, ’94 Throwbacks, Pt 2: Gaming with Griffey, The Two Pucketts: Struggling with Kirby’s Legacy 9 Years After His Death, The Most Mediocre Pitcher of All-Time: Pat Mahomes, Effectively Wild: Essential Works (updated 11/27/19), Evaluating the 2020 Predictions & Projections, The 2020 Effectively Wild Survivor Game Recap, Season Preview Series 2020, Pt 5: Milwaukee, Minnesota, NY Mets, Season Preview Series 2020, Pt 4: Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Season Preview Series 2020, Pt 3: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Season Preview Series 2020, Pt 2: Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Season Preview Series 2020, Pt 1: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Counterpoint: The Red Sox Were Right to Trade Betts (and Price), Gotta Go Fast…to Cooperstown: The Case for Kenny Lofton. At least Americans understand baseball, the true realm of clear ideas. Barzun’s passing came on a night when Sergio Romo closed a Game 2 win for the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The game somewhat cheapened itself in the 1990s, perhaps not fatally or permanently, but saliently, by adding teams and playoff rounds that muddled the hard, cold integrity of the long season. "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules, and reality of the game." A kind of individualism thereby returns, but it is limited—eternal vigilance is the price of victory. Baseball "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America," wrote esteemed critic Jacques Barzun, "had better learn baseball." The idea of baseball is a team, an outfit, a section, a gang, a union, a cell, a commando squad—in short, a twentieth-century setup of opposite numbers. Bases full and a homer make four runs, while the defenders, helpless without the magic power of the ball lying over the fence, cry out their anguish and dig up the sod with their spikes. Its stewards today are not the devoted servants of public interest their forebears were. In the year that Barzun wrote his perceptions of baseball and country, 1954 -- often thought of as a heyday of baseball and the year in which the … He wrote about a wide range of subjects, including baseball, mystery novels, and classical music, and was also known as a philosopher of education. Jacques Barzun, one of the most influential historians, educators and thinkers of the 20th century, died Thursday, just one month shy of his 105th birthday But on the other hand, how wise and just that the third strike must not be dropped. How adaptable, too! His father was a diplomat and writer, and the family home became a meeting ground for artists and writers, including Jean Cocteau and painter Albert Gleizes, whose portrait of Madame Barzun her son kept until his death. In the book Teacher in America (1945), Barzun influenced the training of schoolteachers in the United States. However, one of his most famous quotations concerned the game, and I want to unpack and reexamine it here. Focusing on ideas and culture, he wrote about a wide range of subjects, including baseball and classical music. Share 0. Here’s what baseball taught us about American life in 2020. Except for brief moments of sliding, you can see them all in one eyeful, unlike the muddy hecatombs of football. The infield is like a steel net held in the hands of the catcher. The Mets’ Middle Infield Conundrum, Write-Up For Yesterday (and Saturday, and Friday): April 24th-26th, 2015, Big Baseball Cards, a Bad Movie, and a Worse Prom Date. Baseball is less violent and less corrupt than football. Quotations by Jacques Barzun, American Educator, Born November 30, 1907. So does the profusion of different acts to be performed—pitching, throwing, catching, batting, running, stealing, sliding, signaling. But fate is controlled by the rules. Man running is the force to be contained. To watch a football game is to be in prolonged neurotic doubt as to what you’re seeing. Tags: wants, know, heart, mind, America, better, learn, baseball. by May 21, 2020 0 0. Will the Phillies Ever Overcome Their -6,528 Run Differential? In San Francisco, meanwhile, a fan culture has emerged that surpasses what’s expected even of fans of perennial contenders. But no wonder - it's as I told you. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” Jacques Barzun passed away on October 25, 2012. Quoted in "Jacques Barzun '27: Columbia Avatar" by Thomas Vinciguerra, Columbia Today (January 2006) Old age is like learning a new profession. Share. 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