At the nexus of labor and leisure: Baseball, nativism, and the 1919 Black Sox scandal

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Abstract

This article analyzes the 1919 baseball scandal in relation to broader issues including labor, "outsiders," and Americanism following World War I. I argue that the scandal muted concerns about labor relations raised by players, and instead focused on supposed threats by "outsiders" and "foreigners" who, through their connections to the sporting underworld, sullied the American institution of baseball. I juxtapose the Black Sox scandal with the nationwide steel strike of 1919 to highlight how the rhetoric used to discuss both events, by industrial leaders, social commentators, and the popular press, reflected rising nativist attitudes and ideas that ultimately fueled the Red Scare and the Palmer Raids. Discussions of both the steel strike and the Black Sox scandal were subsumed under the banner of Americanism, and illustrated how the meaning of Americanism was constricted following the war. Sites such as the shopfloor and the baseball field became arenas in which these narrowing definitions of Americanism were constructed and negotiated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-962+1127
JournalJournal of Social History
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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