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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Baseball Then and Now

“The best teams today are better than the best teams then. But the worst teams now are worse than the worst teams then.” — Whitey Herzog, St. Louis Cardinals manager, comparing the major league baseball clubs of 1950 with those in 1990.

How do teams playing today compare with other eras? Right off the bat, Whitey Herzog has prompted a baseball conversation before you have gotten past the entrance to this exhibition. It is a conversation that might continue between you and other fans long after you have left the Library of Congress. That’s one of the great things about baseball—it brings people together to watch or play the game and then spurs discussion, analysis, and debate that can lead to agony or exaltation.

The items shown here are also part of the conversation. What if three-time American League batting champion José Altuve played a hundred years ago—hitting with a mushroom handle bat? Would New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra have donned a hockey-style mask? And what if you had to play shortstop with fingerless gloves?

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