Baseball’s popularity in Arizona extends back to the earliest days of the Territory. Although Tucson’s baseball history is fairly well known, what is known about baseball in smaller Southern Arizona communities?
On Thursday (April 5) at 3:30 p.m. Robert Schon, professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, will describe Southern Arizona baseball’s bygone era. Schon’s research has explored some of the earliest known ball fields in the state through his Archaeology of Baseball in Southern Arizona project at the UA.
“Few people know that baseball has been an important social force in Arizona since the earliest days of the territory,” Schon says. “Sports played an integral role in the awakening of America’s national consciousness during the late 1800s, and Southern Arizona had its own brand of baseball back then—played by miners, soldiers, gamblers, and quite a few future Hall of Famers.”
Who else but an anthropologist would see baseball fields in towns such as Bisbee as an opportunity for studying the awakening of America’s national consciousness during the early 1900s? Schon has found that information about these fields reveals the social lives of the people who played in and attended early baseball games. These findings contribute to our understanding of this long-forgotten aspect of Arizona’s history.
Schon is an associate professor of anthropology and associate director of the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Most of his anthropological research focuses on the dynamics of complex societies, with particular interest in ancient economies. His current projects examine the early adoption of standardized measures, statecraft in Mycenaean Greece, and landscape archaeology in western Sicily, in addition to his work on baseball in Arizona during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Written by Sarah Dinham, Academy Village Volunteer