A Map of the United Countries of Baseball
Baseball is the quintessential North American sport, as demonstrated by this map
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Although also very popular in East Asia and in other parts of the American continent, baseball is the quintessential North American sport, early in the 20th century even labelled the ‘national pastime’ of the USA. It remains so today: in the US, the words ‘ballgame’ and ‘ballpark’ automatically refer to baseball, not to any other sport.
To the disinterested outsider, baseball shares some vague similarities with cricket – not a coincidence, since baseball is an 18th-century development out of earlier bat-and-ball games popular with British immigrants, such as ‘rounders’. This origin is somewhat disputed: some evidence exists for a British game also called ‘base-ball’, as in British novelist Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’ (written circa 1800), where some children play it on a village green.
Nowadays, professional baseball in North America is organized in Major League Baseball, composed of the National league (°1876) and the American league (°1901). Both are divided in to Eastern, Central and Western divisions. The game has – or had – a mainly eastern following: the first major league teams on the West Coast were ‘transplants’ from Back East: the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to LA and the New York Giants to San Francisco in 1958. In 1961, the first ‘original’ West Coast team was founded: the LA Angels.
This map, indicating all teams in the National and American sub-leagues of Major League Baseball, translates some of the American obsession with baseball into a representation of the supposed ‘countries’ of baseball. As with many other team sports, the fan base of baseball teams is to a large extent regional. Unless you’re of a contrary nature, you support the local team – barring of course that you move, and continue to support your home team as a kind of sentimental link with your place of origin.
Here’s an overview of the ‘countries of baseball’, first of the National League:
These teams play in the American League:
This map was first sent to me by Lee I. Garnett. This version found here.
Strange Maps #160
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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