Bleacher Bugs and Fifty-Centers: The Social Stratification of Baseball Fans through Stadium Design, 1880–1920
- Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum
- University of Minnesota Press
- Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2021
- pp. 5-29
- Additional Information
Between 1860 and 1920, Americans grappled with the demographic and political changes of modernization. American baseball-team owners used furniture selection and arrangement to invite upperand middle-class native-born white men and women to the center of spectatorship and to marginalize nonwhite, immigrant, and working-class fans. Owners installed a new type of seating, the opera chair, to tame rowdy male audiences and protect the bodies of white women who attended frequent ladies' days. In newspapers, owners and sportswriters stereotyped spectators by seating section. Fans embraced, and at times resisted, the status imposed upon them through stadium design. A close reading of the interior landscape recorded in newspaper descriptions and photographs reveals spaces divided into hierarchical groups designed to assuage the anxieties of bourgeois white audiences. Professional baseball teams invited all into communal spectatorship to watch the national game, but segregated fans in pursuit of profit.