Drawing on recent literature on political spectatorship, I
show how sport, and baseball in particular, can both illuminate and shape
American politics. Following the history of racial segregation and immigrant
assimilation in baseball, one sees that it mirrors American race politics on
the whole. I argue that Jackie Robinson and the desegregation of baseball
changed both American politics and the horizons within which citizens think.
Although it is tempting to focus on this positive and emergent moment, I
argue that for the most part, looking at the history of race in baseball shows
instead coded language that reinforces racial stereotypes. This example of
baseball and race shows how powerful spectatorship can be in the democratic
world. Spectatorship need not be passive but can be an important
sphere of activity in democratic life.