Review of Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire Thomas Zeiler, the author of Ambassadors in Pinstripes: the Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire, entertains and enlightens the reader through a descriptive journey of Albert Spalding’s efforts to introduce a World Baseball Tour. The bulk of Zeiler’s book is based off of periodicals, newspapers, magazines, and guides; which serves as the groundwork for his book.
Albert Spalding is known as a leader; a manager of the Chicago White Stockings, a very successful manufacturer of sporting goods, and predominantly as an organizer of tours designed to popularize America’s “national game” abroad. Spalding’s world tour mission was to send two teams of professional well known players to Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Europe, and the surrounding areas. His marketing techniques and goals for his all American team to play worldwide was a model for many industries seeking to establish abroad relations.
Sports participation also provides a common ground and is a way to unite without discrimination, such as the warring people of South Africa during the Apartheid. Through this successful tour, Spalding established the pattern of baseball’s close connection with globalization and to let the world know of America’s increasingly ambitious exceptionalism in the world. Sports as a tool of diplomacy came of age in the post-World War I world when it caught the attention of politicians and governments as a channel through which to conduct international relations.
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Across the globe sports have personified the ideologies of political policies in the 20th century and as we enter the 21st century, sports are becoming an essential part of the toolbox of a country’s public diplomacy. Sport events that host numerous foreign visitors have impacts on a country’s relationship with foreign publics. It’s why organizations and governments seek to attach themselves to popular figures, teams, and events that enhance their standings in the eyes of others.
The Olympics for example serves as a way to bring world nations together through international sports competitions and encourages further engagement, often in the form of economic benefits through participation and hosting. London is currently hosting the Olympics this year and in preparation back in 2009 the event was predicted to “provide economic gold at a time of economic need,” however hosting the Olympics is an extremely costly business with the upgrades, new sports facilities, and security that it will cost much, much more than expected.
Spalding’s World Baseball Tour laid the roots of the new empire and exemplified the United States onto the world stage. It highlighted our country’s economic growth, the search for overseas markets, improvements in communication and transportation, and the rising cultural interactions. Thomas Zeiler’s main emphasis is on the baseball players and their entourage as “tourists” who helped disperse American culture abroad and brought global influences back to their homelands.
Thomas Zeiler concluded that because of the immense impact of the World Tour, it was the process of globalization of baseball that laid the structure of the growing American identity. Baseball was used to sell and export the American way. The game associated itself with the values of the American dream. In America’s foreign diplomacy, baseball was used to promote patriotism and nationalism. Sports have shown it has the power to heal old wounds. Sport in South Africa during the Apartheid, kept the multiple races and cultures that make up South Africa apart for nearly a century.
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by white Afrikaners, who were the minority, over the indigenous majority. Rugby was the sport that took a mental toll on all South Africans and played a larger part in the victory of the anti-apartheid movement. The Rugby World Cup was one of the key moments that shaped the world’s impression of the new South Africa. The Rugby World Cup contributed significantly to the return of foreign investment in South Africa and strengthening of trade and other economic links that had been destroyed through the policies of apartheid and the subsequent boycotts and restrictions.
The development of the industrialization and the use of resources from across the world created a gateway for Americans. Spalding’s initial mission paved the way for global integration opened the door to the sensational play of foreign participants in America’s national pastime. The mass appeal of sports like baseball provides the United States with a social “olive branch. ” Baseball diplomacy helps break the ice between nations that are separated by cultural differences, monetary discrepancies and educational variances.
Sports are relevant to the study of foreign relations because it is fundamentally concerned with power, and our sports culture that is driven by the media, boasted by advertising, bankrolled by industrialists, that it’s reflective of American society. It has played a huge role in projecting American influence abroad. Sports purpose is no longer limitied to entertainment; it is often intermingling with trade, business, and politics. Hopefully sports will continue as a feature of modern life that connects people and continents together.
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