ENMU offering class on social effects of baseball

By Rick White

Kay Reed loved playing baseball growing up on the West Coast. She remembers sitting on the bench and packing her cheeks full of Big League bubble gum.

Her uncle, a former minor league player and coach, would give Reed and his sister tips.

She also enjoys watching baseball, especially in person. She’s attended a handful of major and minor league games.

Still, the 31-year-old graduate student at Eastern New Mexico University sheepishly admits she knows little about the history of the game.
“I couldn’t even name a player,” Reed said.

That will likely change over the next month as Reed is one of more than a dozen students signed up for a new class, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” beginning Tuesday at ENMU. The four-week, upper-division English class, will expose students to baseball literature through five novels, a play and several films, including “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” and “A League of Their Own.”

“The class will focus on the way in which baseball has affected our culture,” said Dr. Jerald Spotswood, the chair of Eastern’s Languages and Literature Department and a lifelong baseball fan and avid reader of baseball literature.

“Since it is the first year, the class will be a little experimental. We will explore what were the white professional ranks and how this reflected and brought us to the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll also look at women in baseball,” Spotswood said.

A background knowledge of baseball and baseball literature will help students, but that it is not a requirement, he said.
Besides needing the credits for her graduate degree and her love for baseball, Reed, a double major in history and English, said she likes the way Spotswood teaches.

Last summer, Spotswood taught a class called “Bruce Springsteen and the Working Life.” Reed sat in on a few of the lectures.

“He really did an impressive job,” Reed said. “He made it fun.

“I think it will be interesting to learn about the history of the sport, and how the sport’s ideology had an affect on America’s culture,” she said.

Spotswood, who grew up a Dodgers and Angels fan while living in California, admits the class combines two of his passions, teaching and baseball.

He said the class is “English majors and anyone with a desire to read, analyze and talk about the social issues of baseball.”