Thinking about this while researching the spread of base ball in antebellum New Jersey made me think about the young men who joined these first New Jersey base ball clubs. Why did they do it? Answering that question leads us into the multiple explanations of why base ball grew like it did from 1855 on. Part of it has to do with what was happening to American youth in the 1850's. Adam Goodheart in his book, "1861: The Civil War Awakening," writes that at the middle of the 19th century "youth was ascendant as it had never been before." This involved trying new things so young men "joined militias, volunteer fire companies, 'young men's societies,' and gymnasiums," and he could very easily have added - base ball clubs. According to Goodheart it was a way they sought brotherhood, a need that existed simultaneously with a belief in rugged individualism.
Eureka Base Ball Club of Newark