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For the Love of the Game

Students pose with baseball photo
Student works in class
Students pose with sign on bus
Students at baseball game

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School: Ithaca High School    

Project/Class Title: For the Love of the Game-The Literature of Baseball Class

Grade(s): 11-12

Subject(s): English Language Arts integrated with sports and history

Project: For the Love of the Game-The Literature of Baseball class is a one semester elective course open to all Ithaca High School juniors and seniors. This course examines the roots of our national pastime to discover why it remains a constant in our society. It provides an introduction to literature of the game, starting with the early years of baseball, and continuing on to the present era. In this reading intensive course, students critically analyze works such as: The Natural by Bernard Malamud, Fences by August Wilson, Shoeless Joe by W. P Kinsella, and Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Within this rigorous framework, the course features many elements of choice, personalization, and relevance.  For example, after studying the history of the All- American Girls Baseball League (1943-1954) and the Negro League through interviewing former players Sarah Jane “Salty” Ferguson and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, students created a children’s book and collaborated with elementary students on its illustrations.

The Controversial Topics in Baseball Project is a research project within this course that was developed with the librarians at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Students work collaboratively to develop and prove a hypothesis about topics such as: Should steroid era players be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Is instant replay a positive change in the game or does it hinder? How does the designated hitter change the way that the game is played? Should it be a factor in both leagues or eliminated? Students use primary source materials that can only be accessed at the HOF, as well as database information and, in many cases, current statistical information to develop their position. In 2015-16, many students used footage and statistics from the game they attended to develop points in their projects as well. This project gives students a more in-depth research experience that will prepare them for collegiate level research and analysis. Students work collaboratively to meet multiple deadlines in the creation of a 20-30 minute presentation on the topic.

Service Learning: 15-16 work included the creation of a children’s literature book telling the story of the All- American Girls Baseball League.

Experts/Local connections: First person interviews with noted members of the baseball community, including members of the All- American Girls Baseball League (1943-1954), the Negro League and the MLB.

Fieldwork: Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Yankee Stadium.