Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American

April 7–October 30, 2016

About the Exhibition

There are people whose contributions to baseball history went far beyond mere batting averages or stolen bases. From Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Fernando Valenzuela, and Ichiro Suzuki, these are players who 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. Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American celebrates baseball and highlights the role of baseball’s game changers—not only major league players but also vendors, team owners, minor leaguers, amateur players, scouts, broadcasters, journalists, novelists, and fans—who challenged the status-quo and inspired the nation.

Featuring over 130 artifacts, original films, and interactive experiences, Chasing Dreams is the first large-scale exhibition to use the story of Jews and baseball to highlight ways in which our national pastime is part of the history, and ongoing story, of how immigrants and other minority communities—including Italians, Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and many others—become American. It asks the following questions: Why have so many immigrant groups and minority communities identified with, taken pride in, and felt connected to the nation’s pastime? Did baseball impact how American Jews established affinities with other racial and ethnic minorities? And how did baseball shape Americans’ views of American identity? Beginning with the Civil War era and continuing to the present day, the exhibition addresses these questions and explores how baseball has served as an arena in which values, identity, ethnicity, and race have been projected, contested, and occasionally solidified. 

CHASING DREAMS: BASEBALL AND BECOMING AMERICAN WAS ORGANIZED BY THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.