What is known is that as far back as the early 1800s, men and boys, black and white, were playing baseball.
For many decades before and during the formation of early baseball, Africans had been captured and brought to the
United States. They were forced to work under slavery. The white owners treated the black slaves as property. Slaves were required to do backbreaking work such as picking cotton in their owners’ fields. As an escape from their difficult lives, some slaves turned to baseball. Black slave boys sometimes played with the white children of slave owners. One former slave, interviewed during the 1930s, remembered that
“always on Saturday afternoon you would have ’till ‘first dark’ for baseball.”
Slavery in the
United States ended when the Civil War
ended in 1865. By that
During the 1880s, Cuban Giants players were paid $12 to $20 per week. “They were the happiest set of men in the world,” wrote author
Sol White, who played for the Cuban
Giants. “Not one would have changed his position with the president of the
He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.
—Hamlet, Act one, Scene two William Shakespeare
Character could be described as a stable amalgam of psychological traits that seem to define the basic identity of each human being. It is not as genetically “fixed” or as unique as a thumbprint perhaps given its incremental, adaptative, experimental and experiential nature. But it is not as evanescent as a mood or a transient symptom either. Like symptom or dream it is a compromise of psychological forces: when instinct clamors for expression and ego tames it, moulding it into a more socially adaptive form of itself, a compromise of forces has been achieved. At its best compromise formation does not compromise the ideals of a human being, it merely forces them into a better alignment with reality. Character could be viewed as a stable, almost automatic deployment of such compromise formations throughout the flow of psychological time, a psychological compass that charts the course of human sensibility and reactivity throughout the psychological odyssey of each unique life. If ego is the abstract concept for such executive management, character is a more experience-near, personal definition of such agency. When Robert Bolt wrote of, and depicted Sir Thomas More as “a man for all seasons” it was the enduring stability of his character that was being referred to. While the enduring stability of its nature is its most unique and crucial feature, character is of course fashioned out of the crooked timber of humanity and its stability can never be thought of as absolute. In childhood, where developmental flux is the norm, as opposed to the relatively stable maturity adulthood is capable of sustaining, a symptom and a character trait seem much closer to the instinctual unruly energies they were designed to contain in the first place. I want to suggest, that even in adulthood, character can be more symptomatic than its definition as a stable psychic entity seems to claim. If symptom can be so subtle and ego-syntonic that Lucy herself hardly noticed it, I want to argue that impressive character can be less stable than the ego that sustains it would like to admit. I have chosen the character of Hamlet to illustrate this thesis. He is all at once the noblest protagonist in the play and yet his nature, can be capricious and symptomatic.