Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Rural Agricultural Technology and Environmental History
Larry T. McDonnell
Between 1917 and 1947, professional baseball in the United States became politicized under the rule of commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. He reconstructed the game's sport-hero ethos to promote civic-minded manhood, forging a powerful bond between the construction of American masculinity and the demands of civic obligations. Landis understood that baseball's popularity had created idols out of the men who played the game, imbuing the sport's hero ethos with the power to influence the discourse that defined manhood. He believed that baseball could serve the needs of the nation by inculcating a belief that patriotic actions were at the core of American masculinity.
Landis oversaw the expansion of "sportsmanship" as a moral standard in athletics that taught values that were important to building virtuous citizenship. The changes he implemented proved transformative, both on and off the playing field. His work reconstructed sports as an American experience that was vital to sustaining a functioning democracy. While the current scholarship acknowledges baseball's importance to defining the American experience and as a solution to the "crisis of masculinity," the two historiographies rarely overlap. This study seeks to explore how Landis used baseball to influence a relationship of reciprocity between sports and the state that helped to grow American nationalism.
Lindsay John Bell
Bell, Lindsay John, "Reconstructing baseball's image: Landis, Cobb, and the baseball hero ethos, 1917 – 1947" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 18066.