Reconstructing baseball's image: Landis, Cobb, and the baseball hero ethos, 1917 – 1947

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2020-01-01
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Bell, Lindsay
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Larry T. McDonnell
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History
The Department of History seeks to provide students with a knowledge of historical themes and events, an understanding of past cultures and social organizations, and also knowledge of how the past pertains to the present.

History
The Department of History was formed in 1969 from the division of the Department of History, Government, and Philosophy.

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Between 1917 and 1947, professional baseball in the United States became politicized under the rule of commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. He reconstructed the game's sport-hero ethos to promote civic-minded manhood, forging a powerful bond between the construction of American masculinity and the demands of civic obligations. Landis understood that baseball's popularity had created idols out of the men who played the game, imbuing the sport's hero ethos with the power to influence the discourse that defined manhood. He believed that baseball could serve the needs of the nation by inculcating a belief that patriotic actions were at the core of American masculinity.

Landis oversaw the expansion of "sportsmanship" as a moral standard in athletics that taught values that were important to building virtuous citizenship. The changes he implemented proved transformative, both on and off the playing field. His work reconstructed sports as an American experience that was vital to sustaining a functioning democracy. While the current scholarship acknowledges baseball's importance to defining the American experience and as a solution to the "crisis of masculinity," the two historiographies rarely overlap. This study seeks to explore how Landis used baseball to influence a relationship of reciprocity between sports and the state that helped to grow American nationalism.

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Fri May 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020