The kingdom of baseball

There is a brief scene in The Great Gatsby in which narrator Nick Carraway is introduced to the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. Nick is stunned by the notion. "It never occurred to me that one man could play with the faith of fifty million people--with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe."

The faith to which Nick refers, and to which Christopher H. Evans and William R. Herzog allude in their title, is that baseball is somehow set apart from the self-interest and greed that taint the rest of society. Evans and Herzog, the editors and principal authors of this collection, contend that faith in baseball goes even deeper: baseball is tied to the promise of America. It is a symbol of the "national virtues of freedom, justice and equality." In short, baseball is an element of American civil religion.


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