Baseball was a kind of secular church that reached into every class and region of the nation and bound millions upon millions of us together….Baseball made me understand what patriotism was about, at its best.
— Philip Roth, “My Baseball Years,” New York Times, Opening Day, April 2, 1973
There are people whose contributions to baseball history went far beyond mere batting averages or stolen bases. They didn’t just play the game, they changed the game. For generations of American Jews and other minorities, they served as athletic, cultural, and ethical role models. On March 13, 2014, just in time for the start of baseball season, the Museum will open a groundbreaking new exhibition highlighting these game changers and—just as importantly—the fans, ideals, and culture they inspired. Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American is the first large-scale exhibition to use the story of Jews and baseball as an opportunity to highlight ways in which our national pastime is part of the history, and ongoing story, of how immigrants and minorities of many different backgrounds—including Italians, Asians, Latinos, African-Americans, and many others—become American, to feel a part of the society in which they might otherwise be on the margins. It will be on view at the Museum through October 26, 2014.
Click here to visit ChasingDreams.NMAJH.org
Do you have baseball memorabilia that you’d like to share with the Museum? Visit us at http://www.chasingdreamsbaseball.tumblr.com/ to share photos of your artifacts!
Major support for Chasing Dreams is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Major League Baseball, Judy and Fred Wilpon and the New York Mets, Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation and the Washington Nationals, the Marc and Diane Spilker Foundation, Leon Wagner, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and Sam Wisnia. Additional support is provided by Oakland Athletics, John Fisher and Lew Wolff, Gary Goldring, Steve and Myrna Greenberg, Macy’s, Michael G. Rubin, and Susie and Robert Zeff.
Past Special Exhibitions
To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington & Religious Freedom
George Washington’s historic letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island was the remarkable centerpiece of the Museum’s first special exhibition, To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom. Written in August 1790, and exhibited for the first time in a decade, it represents a courageous and historic statement by America’s first national leader, one which underscored the new nation’s commitment to religious liberty and equality for people of all faiths. His poetic and iconic address confirmed the new President’s commitment to a government that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
Today, people of all faiths enjoy freedom of religion in the United States. But in early America, religious communities could not assume that this would be true. Between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Americans engaged in an intense debate about the nature and limits of religious liberty. People of all faiths followed these discussions intently, seeking assurance that their own rights would be protected.
The exhibition included a stunning group of artifacts, including early printings of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.