a1 University of Colorado at Boulder
During the Gilded Age, transnational American agents carried national values abroad, including defense of the “civilizing mission” of the white race toward people of color. This article explores race within the context of the Spalding world baseball tour of 1888-89, a transnational enterprise that marketed the national pastime abroad and, in so doing, indicated the latent, private power behind the official policies of the United States. A rather unusual segment of society to be considered for such scholarly treatment, professional baseball elites nonetheless helped generate a racist imperial ideology and thus added to the voices that set racial parameters for the American empire when it was attained in 1898. By tracing the racial attitudes of the baseball tourists, this article contributes to recent scholarly enterprises that examine foreign relations from a cultural perspective and integrate overlooked actors into the study of diplomatic history.
Thomas W. Zeiler, a professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has published widely on American foreign relations. He is executive editor of the journal Diplomatic History and editor of American Foreign Relations: A Guide to the Literature. His current projects include a global history of World War II, a study of globalization and sports, and an overview of the world economy since 1945.
1 This article is drawn from Thomas W. Zeiler, Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire (Lanham, MD, 2006).