Sunday was officially Opening Day of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, although most of the teams opened their season on Monday and technically the season began last week in Japan when the Boston Red Sox met the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome to play two games that count. In the spirit of the occasion "Life Drawing Sunday" appears on Wednesday this week.
Putting together a post of baseball cartoons should have been a cinch, what with baseball being the National Pastime and all, and Life being dedicated to commenting on all manner of national pastimes. Also, given roughly 50 years of publication, with six months of each year in which baseball was a relevant and insanely popular topic, there should have been a huge selection to choose from, even from a very incomplete collection. There wasn't. What follows is literally everything I found that had anything remotely to do with baseball. I could fill a couple of posts with golf cartoons, probably even do one about insects golfing but, for now, this is it for baseball.
Early on there was a sports column in the back of the magazine, and by sports I mean mostly yacht racing and that rowing thing that Ivy League schools do. There was mention of baseball (or Base Ball) at times, in particular as it was played by the New York Mets (the 1883-87 version) and the New York Giants.
The column didn't last very long and there was little mention of the game in the magazine's text after that. I did find an editorial that seems to be kinda advocating for free agency, or simple decency. The New York Times had a detailed account of the "arraignment".
But the text portions of Life aren't the main interest here. The baseball cartoons and drawings that they did publish are, and these seem to be easily divided into three categories. There are those that see the game as a part of childhood, kids playing in sandlot games or in knothole gangs. There's the "kill the umpire" cartoons, which must have been a cliché even at the time Casey was written, and some of which involve children too. Finally there are the cartoons that use the game as metaphor but are really about anything other than baseball. As always, though, there are some good drawings.