The Four Sides of a Baseball Diamond

The Four Sides of a Baseball Diamond: Identity, Diversity, Integration, and Community (Grades 4-7)

For immigrants and diverse ethnic and racial groups, baseball served as a way to overcome social challenges and to identify as American.

Since its advent in the 19th century, baseball has been part of the fabric of American life and has embodied the American spirit. Immigrants and their descendants saw baseball as a pathway for understanding American values, culture, and behaviors. Baseball also served as a way for members of diverse ethnic and racial groups, who faced legal and social barriers, to identify as American.

Introducing terms such as identity, diversity, integration, and community, this program highlights the experiences of Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants, as well as African Americans, whose fascination with baseball shaped their lives. The program also discusses the role baseball has played in challenging racism and discrimination, and in shaping American society. Students work in small groups to analyze select primary sources, participate in game-based activities, and discuss questions like: How does it feel to be on the outside looking in? Eventually, they learn to recognize diversity as a source of strength on a sports team as well as in a community.

1. Understand the diverse backgrounds of Americans
2. Understand diversity as the inclusion of different types of people in a group
3. Identify how baseball helped Jewish immigrants and other immigrant groups face the challenge
of making America home
4. Understand the role African Americans played in the history of Philadelphia and the US at large
5. Analyze and evaluate primary and secondary source documents
6. Understand the relevance of historical events to daily life and make personal connections
7. Participate effectively in conversations and group interactions

Classroom Baseball Experience: These lessons, downloadable via the link below, are designed to support a visit to Chasing Dreams, but can also stand alone as independent units of study. They include images of objects, photos, and documents from the exhibition as well as discussion questions to help you explore these resources with your students.  Relevant Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Common Core Standards are included as well. If you are planning to visit the exhibition, the introductory lesson will serve as a useful pre-visit experience; the other lessons can be taught either before or after your visit.

Click here to download The Four Sides teacher kit

Click here to download The Four Sides worksheet