Reconstruction and the myth of “The Lost Cause” are topics that I’ve spent a decent amount of time over recent years reading and researching through articles and documentaries. Lost Cause ideas perpetuated the completely false idea that the Confederate’s reason for succession was for a noble cause of independence, rather than maintaining the institution of slavery in the South. These ideas and arguments and the timeline and failure of Reconstruction I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on, in contrast to early American Sports History which I’ve never really explored before. 

Baseball’s role in the South after the Civil War was an aspect of American History I’ve never really looked into. The case of the Virginias was very interesting to examine because it greatly reflects how the South dealt with the aftermath of the Civil War and coping with undergoing massive changes in American society. The Virginias being made up of Confederate veterans essentially made baseball in Richmond, the Confederacy and the Civil War inseparable. The team was a direct link to the war, and served as a reminder for the people in Richmond of those who fought in the war and their ideas. The connection The Virginias had to the Confederacy was a major factor for their popularity in Richmond, despite the team having multiple setbacks and rough years subsequently. The Virginias were able to endure several rough seasons in the mid 1850s, and rebuild their team under new management. 

The success of the Virginias made them more popular amongst the working and middle class of Richmond. This common theme of sports being adopted by the middle and working class was seen in South America with sports like basketball and soccer, as well which were key in helping to develop culture. The case was the same for baseball in the New South, baseball became America’s pastime and helped Southerners cope and develop a sense of unity and community amongst each other. Baseball helped ease and incorporate southerners into the new systems and overall lifestyle that America was moving toward, one example of this was the Virginias introducing Richmond to standardized business practices. Baseball helped grow the economy too, with newspapers, merchants and bars getting more business as the Virginias popularity continued to grow. 

Baseball and the Virginias was still a reflection of the broken state of the country after the Civil War. African American spectators were allowed to spectate games but faced segregation within the stadiums. African American teams were prohibited from playing any white teams, and baseball’s (particularly the Virginias in this case) connection with the Confederacy enabled newspapers and discourse to develop and ingrain the myth of “The Lost Cause.”