UNREMEMBERED SPORTS: How the Civil War and Prison Camps Changed Baseball


By Ken Zurski

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the start of the Civil War in 1861 slowed down the progress of a game like baseball, a sport that was gaining popularity in the years before the conflict began. And that was true, to a point. Inevitably as men heeded the call to serve, there just weren’t as many players to take the field. But there were reserves to take their place, especially in the well populated state like New York, which holds the distinction of introducing the world to baseball.

While bat-and-ball type games were popping up throughout the country, in New York, an actual team called the Knickerbockers emerged in the 1840’s. While not trailblazers in creating the game, they can be considered pioneers when it comes to the sport. The Knickerbockers actually made and followed rules.

Other teams formed and crowds grew.


Then came the war.

Although pick-up games continued, the…

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