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Gatekeepers of Americana: Ownership's Neverending Quest for Control of the Baseball Creed

Mitchell J. Nathanson, Villanova


This article examines owner-player relations from the founding of the National League in 1876 to the present and concludes that the owners’ repeated refusal to negotiate with the players’ union throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s were merely additional chapters in their ongoing quest to position themselves as the sole protectors of what has become known as the “baseball creed” and all that is symbolic of baseball as metaphor for traditional American values. In order to maintain their status as the lone gatekeepers of the American values supposedly embodied and taught by baseball, it has always been necessary for ownership to not merely distance itself from its players (who otherwise naturally would have been bestowed this title) but to belittle and disparage them in the eyes of the public. As a result, presenting an image of a partnership with them has always been an impossibility. For the National League was founded on the subservience of the players to the owners in a calculated effort to increase the social status of the owners by presenting an image to the public of a game whose purity and values were protected by the owners from ruin by the players. Creation and maintenance of this status was a primary reason many of the owners sought to associate themselves with the game and they have been at war with their players (who until the 1960’s did not even realize there was even a war being waged against them) ever since.

Suggested Citation

Mitchell J. Nathanson. "Gatekeepers of Americana: Ownership's Neverending Quest for Control of the Baseball Creed" NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 15.1 (2006): 68-87.
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