Open Access Thesis
Baseball--Iowa--History; Baseball players--Iowa--Interviews;
Baseball has been an important part of American popular culture for over one hundred years. In the early part of the twentieth century baseball was the nation's most pervasive sport and symbolized many values and attitudes that Americans held dear. During the late nineteenth century, adult baseball teams were formed within small towns across the nation. The team members were typically considered amateur athletes playing "town team" baseball. Over the years, as they were given opportunities to make money from their play, the term of semi-professional was applied to many of these players.
The decades following World War II were a time of growth and great prosperity for semi-pro baseball in Iowa and the rest of the country. During the later decades of the twentieth century, social and historical trends in America caused many towns to lose their local baseball teams. In the early nineteen hundreds nearly every town, large and small, had a team. By the end of the century most towns had lost their teams. In northeast Iowa, however, semi-pro baseball has been able to survive relatively unchanged. Despite the failure of teams across the nation, there are currently two leagues with a total of seventeen teams in existence within a relatively small geographic area.
While battling the same undermining trends that weakened baseball's health elsewhere, northeast Iowa has been able to continue to support town baseball. Two key factors in the continued existence of baseball in this area are: sufficient financial resources to sustain the teams and a strong sense of tradition. The tournament structure that has evolved since the late 1940s has given teams in this area the economic security needed to survive. The movie Field of Dreams has given the community of Dyersville a prominent place in the nostalgic mythology of American baseball. However, long before the movie was filmed in the 1980s, Dyersville and other area teams were a part of a strong tradition of semi-pro baseball which has helped to keep town ball alive in northeast Iowa.
Year of Submission
Year of Award
Master of Arts
Department of History
Robert F. Martin, Chair, Thesis Committee
1 PDF file (v, 313 pages)
©2012 Todd Michael Hospodarsky
Hospodarsky, Todd Michael, "Baseball in the heartland: Semi-pro baseball survives in Iowa" (2012). Dissertations and Theses @ UNI. 607.