I led off my gigantic “Baseball is not dying” post last month with several quotes, going back over a century, in which people erroneously lamented the impending doom of baseball. But Bryan Curtis of Grantland spoke with the great John Thorn, who has chronicled this stuff for a living for a loooong time. And it turns out that a mere century is nothin’. Get this, from 1868:
Somehow or other, they don’t play ball nowadays as they used to some eight or ten years ago. I don’t mean to say they don’t play it as well. … But I mean that they don’t play with the same kind of feelings or for the same objects they used to. … It appears to me that ball matches have come to be controlled by different parties and for different purposes …
That’s from Pete O’Brien of the Brooklyn Atlantics. Who said that in 1868. A year before the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first fully-professional baseball team. Put differently: baseball was dying before it actually existed in the form that we know it.
A great read about the never-ending and, apparently, always-existing predictions of baseball’s imminent demise.