Baseball did not become gendered as a man’s sport overnight nor did any single group dominate the cultural metanarrative of baseball as it matured from infancy to adolescence during the nineteenth century. Baseball has been used to symbolize “Americanism,” middle-class, Judeo-Christian values, and “manliness.” Though many vied to control the narrative of America’s national pastime, not every group had equal influence on the ultimate character and culture of baseball. By the end of the nineteenth century, men held almost exclusive control of the narrative of “official” baseball, while women controlled a parallel narrative for the baseball-surrogate called “women’s baseball.” This game became the precursor of softball which emerged in its official form during the 1930s.
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