Sir Winston Churchill spoke about baseball? Yes, that too…

Sir Winston Churchill spoke about baseball? Yes, that too…

A cor­re­spon­dent and fel­low devo­tee of the game asks if Sir Win­ston had any­thing to say about Amer­i­can base­ball. Out of fif­teen mil­lion words over nine­ty years? Of course he did!

It may seem odd, since base­ball is not an Eng­lish sport, and its clos­est coun­ter­part over there is rounders. But—ever obe­di­ent to the whims of Churchillians—I offer what he had to say on the matter.

The inter­est­ing pho­to above accom­pa­nied a nice arti­cle, “Churchill on Base­ball,” by Christo­pher Schwarz, which I pub­lished  a few years ago in Finest Hour 163. I sup­plied the fol­low­ing Churchill quotes as a side­bar to Mr. Schwarz’s article.


Baseball by Churchill

“Mil­lions of men and women are in the mar­ket, all eager to sup­ple­ment the rewards of ener­getic toil by ‘easy mon­ey.’ From every part of its enor­mous ter­ri­to­ries the Amer­i­can pub­lic fol­lows the game. Horserac­ing, base­ball, foot­ball, every form of sport or gam­bling cedes its place to a casi­no whose ampli­tude and splen­dours make Monte Car­lo the mean­est midget in Lilliput.”

—WSC, “What I Saw and Heard in Amer­i­ca,” Part IV: “Fever of Spec­u­la­tion in Amer­i­ca,” Dai­ly Tele­graph, 9 Decem­ber 1929; reprint­ed in The Col­lect­ed Essays of Sir Win­ston Churchill, 4 vols. (Lon­don: Library of Impe­r­i­al His­to­ry, 1975), IV 42.

* * *

“Broad­ly speak­ing, human beings may be divid­ed into three class­es: those who are toiled to death, those who are wor­ried to death, and those who are bored to death. It is no use offer­ing the man­u­al labour­er, tired out with a hard week’s sweat and effort, the chance of play­ing a game of foot­ball or base­ball on Sat­ur­day after­noon. It is no use invit­ing the politi­cian or the pro­fes­sion­al or busi­ness man, who has been work­ing or wor­ry­ing about seri­ous things for six days, to work or wor­ry about tri­fling things at the week-end.”

—WSC, “Hob­bies,” in Thoughts and Adven­tures, 1932. (The best cur­rent edi­tion is by ISI, thor­ough­ly edit­ed and re-foot­not­ed by James W. Muller and Paul Courtenay.)

* * *

“‘The writ­ten word remains.’ The spo­ken word dies upon the air. The news bul­letin is com­ing through on the broad­cast. The tele­phone bell rings – your wife asks you if you remem­bered to post that letter—and by the time you can again give your atten­tion to the announc­er, he has passed to anoth­er item. With­out the news­pa­per you will nev­er know the result of that base­ball match, or the President’s lat­est mes­sage to Congress.”

—WSC, “You Get It in Black and White,” Col­liers, 28 Decem­ber 1935; reprint­ed in Col­lect­ed Essays IV, 317. (Churchill should have said “game” not “match.” Base­ball is not cricket!)

Prime Minister’s Questions, 21 July 1952:

Mr. Fen­ner Brock­way (Lab.): “Is [the Prime Min­is­ter] aware that…the Iver Heath Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty Asso­ci­a­tion held a fete to raise mon­ey for par­ty pur­pos­es to which it invit­ed Amer­i­can Ser­vice base­ball teams to par­tic­i­pate for a ‘Win­ston Churchill’ trophy…and had a note from him say­ing he was hon­oured that his name was linked to the trophy?”

Churchill habit­u­al­ly read all the British morn­ing papers, includ­ing the “Dai­ly Worker.” 

WSC: “I read in the Dai­ly Work­er some account of this. I had not, I agree, ful­ly real­ized the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions that might attach to the mat­ter, and in so far as I have erred I express my regret.” [Laugh­ter.]

Mr. John H. Hynd (Lab.): “While Hon. Gen­tle­men oppo­site may try to laugh this one off, may I ask whether the Prime Min­is­ter would con­tem­plate the atti­tude of his Hon. Friends if this inci­dent had hap­pened in con­nec­tion with a Labour Par­ty fete?”

WSC: “I hope we should all show an equal spir­it of tol­er­ance and good humour”

Mr. Brock­way (Lab.): “Can the Prime Min­is­ter esti­mate what would be the reac­tion of Mr. Eisen­how­er if British Forces par­tic­i­pat­ed in a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty celebration?”

WSC: “I cer­tain­ly should not attempt to add to the many dif­fi­cult ques­tions which are pend­ing at the present time by bend­ing my mind to the solu­tion of that question.”

One thought on “Sir Winston Churchill spoke about baseball? Yes, that too…

  1. That’s won­der­ful. I won­der if he ever wit­nessed a base­ball game (even a youth game). It is quite pos­si­ble. My grand­fa­ther (who was Scot­tish and served in a Scot­tish Reg­i­ment in WWI 1914-1919) played base­ball (and shin­ty) with Cana­di­an teams in Greece 1916-1918. He had spent some time in Amer­i­ca and hav­ing grown up play­ing shin­ty in the High­lands adapt­ed quite well to base­ball. He was an ardent Brook­lyn Dodger fan. So I learned to keep score from a man with a very thick (braid) Scots Eng­lish. Odd­ly, he knew noth­ing of soc­cer (foot­ball) because as a boy 1880’s 1890’s that Eng­lish game was not known in the High­lands only in cities like Glas­gow. He nev­er played or fol­lowed soc­cer though my father did (being born in 1915 in Glas­gow). My father played rounders in Scot­land and when he came to Amer­i­ca played some base­ball too.

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