Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 22nd, 1889

Chicagos Defeat All-Americans

While this sounds like a battle out of a cheap movie--nothing like those generic team names--it actually has some significant history. The Chicagos won the game 3-2 and although I don't have access to a roster, the crowd is perhaps the most interesting part of the game. This was part of a world tour going around Italy at the time, and this game, which took place in the Villa Borghese outside of Rome, included in its audience King Humbert of Italy.

History has, sadly, not recorded the King's reaction. (Humbert, incidentally, is the WASPy translation of the far more Italian sounding Umberto, to answer a question that was bugging me.) Baseball has obviously never taken in Italy, something I've observed before despite the success of Italian-American players. Despite a roster that includes names like Mike Piazza, David Dellucci and Ron Villone, Italy figures not to have much of a chance in the World Baseball Classic as their initial grouping has them with two powerhouses: the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

But, who knows? Perhaps the WBC will help prompt a new renaissance in Italy, a baseball renaissance. And someday, just as American children long to go to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Italian children will long to go see the site of where Sire Umberto I watched one of the first baseball games every played in Italy.

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