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Tammy's All Things History

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sports history

New Year Traditions and The Rose Bowl of 1902


Photo of Rose Bowl, 1902.

On January 1, 1902, the first ever Rose Bowl football game was played. Michigan took the victory over Stanford, 49-0, shutting out the prestigious team of celebrated athletes. It quickly became a time-honored New Years Day tradition, although not officially until some years later.

Tournament of Roses, 1901

A “Tournament of Roses” had been traditionally held on January the first from 1890 to 1901. But when Stanford’s, Walter Rose created the idea of playing for money, excitement also grew for a national coast to coast college football challenge thus, the Rose Bowl was born.

Michigan football team

Michigan was chosen to play the prestigious Stanford team which did not really seem to be a fair match. Michigan was undefeated in their league and Stanford had suffered upsets and a critical loss to California that year. The terrible loss suffered by Stanford caused sports financiers to rethink the value of the monetary earnings and subsequently it was decided to forfeit more games. Instead, traditional games of chariot races were re-instated until 1922 when the Rose Bowl was returned.

Tournament of Roses: Chariot racing
Annual Rose Parade

Today the Rose Bowl, played in its original city, Pasadena, California, is still an honored tradition that fans world wide look forward to watching. It is seen as the culmination of a great college football year and a pre-cursor to the NFL’s Superbowl game. It is not only recognized for football but also for watching the parade and gathering together with friends and family in anticipation of making new memories and traditions.

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The Black Sox Scandal-Fixing the 1919 World Series


During an online book discussion reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I came across the mention of the 1919 World Series scandal involving the fixing of the World Series. I had never heard of it before and wanted to know more about it.

During the 1919 baseball season eight members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team were banned for life from the sport for fixing that year’s World Series. The fix was a payout reward for intentionally loosing the game and giving the title to the opposing team, The Cincinnati Reds. The scandal affected America in two ways. It caused doubt for those who loved and supported the sport and it became a way for social groups to expose other issues of the day. The issues of the day included dealing with race, ethnicity and labor problems.

The Black Sox Scandal, as it is commonly referred to, occurred right after World War I when Americans began recovering and reconstructing their lives. Newspapers and Presidential speeches were full of Americanism and rhetoric. This was created in order to infuse patriotism, a winning attitude and support for the spread of democracy. The idea of spreading democracy was to right a wrong (rid the world of ruthless dictatorship) and create a better future for Americans. When the scandal broke, Americans could hardly believe it and many did not even want to. Doubts were quickly squashed as Joe Jackson himself admitted to the folly when a young boy questioned him on the incident outside a courthouse as he was leaving. It is no wonder the scandal hit home and became embroiled in keeping integrity important in the sports world.

An influx of immigrants after the war, shady work practices by employers and racial tensions pushed the Americanism envelop further during the scandal because it exposed exploitation of workers by foreign gamblers and influences. Soon the lines between corrupt baseball and the labor industry became intertwined. If there was ever a time to voice a concern of the internal struggles of the factory worker it was at the time of the scandal.

Baseball was also used by each community as a spirit builder. It taught ethical responsibilities of working as a team for a common goal. Factory work was a major part of the work force in 1919 and much of it was organized by team work. Americans worked hard in the factories and deserved to enjoy some recreation such as watching a game. Ken Burns explains in his article, Sure, Baseball Has Its Issues, But Doesn’t Everything? that the sport was a national past time and family event. The sport also reinforced work ethics and values. Together these things fueled the spirit of Americanism; something that needed to keep the nation strong against the real world threat of emerging communism.

What challenged the integrity of baseball and the faith in the magic of the sport was in the teams that were fixed and the shock it caused. The game of the World Series in 1919 promised to be full of knuckle biting excitement because the White Sox were favored to win due to the success of their record for that year. The Reds, the White Sox’s opponents, were average, hard working players but were no match for the strong Chicago team. When it became known to the public that members of the White Sox agreed to accept a loss for a substantial payment, it put the game in jeopardy of being real. If the game could be fixed then everything Americans worked hard for in their personal lives, emulating players and looking forward to recreational family time was suddenly for naught. What a disappointing time that must have been.

Today baseball remains an American national past time as well as many other sports. The same principles of integrity are still held to the same standards and are guarded closely by agencies that police them. It still fuels Americanism and patriotism as before each game the crowd stands to the signing of the national anthem. It still holds the same ideas of working hard as a team for a common goal. It breeds heroism at defining odds and earning places of fame at breaking records in efforts to achieve whatever anyone has set out to do so. Once in awhile a new scandal breaks but America never lets it stop its determination of enjoying the recreation after hard day’s work to watch a game.

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