Dissertation Abstract

Title: Remapping and Visualizing Baseball Labor: A Digital Humanities Project


Recent baseball scholarship has drawn attention to U.S. professional baseball’s complex twentieth century labor dynamics and expanding global presence. From debates around desegregation to discussions about the sport’s increasingly multicultural identity and global presence, the cultural politics of U.S. professional baseball is connected to the problem of baseball labor. However, most scholars address these topics by focusing on Major League Baseball (MLB), ignoring other teams and leagues—Minor League Baseball (MiLB)—that develop players for Major League teams. Considering Minor League Baseball is critical to understanding the professional game in the United States, since players who populate Major League rosters constitute a fraction of U.S. professional baseball’s entire labor force.

As a digital humanities dissertation on baseball labor and globalization, this project uses digital humanities approaches and tools to analyze and visualize a quantitative data set, exploring how Minor League Baseball relates to and complicates MLB-dominated narratives around globalization and diversity in U.S. professional baseball labor. This project addresses how MiLB demographics and global dimensions shifted over time, as well as how the timeline and movement of foreign-born players through the Minor Leagues differs from their U.S.-born counterparts. This project emphasizes the centrality and necessity of including MiLB data in studies of baseball’s labor and ideological significance or cultural meaning, making that argument by drawing on data analysis, visualization, and mapping to address how MiLB labor complicates or supplements existing understandings of the relationship between U.S. professional baseball’s global reach and “national pastime” claims.