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    Baseball Team, Unidentified Baseball Team
Invented in the mid-1880s, the game of baseball quickly became so popular in the United States that it was (and still is) often called the "national pastime." It was an easy game for people to learn, requiring little more than an open field, a bat, a ball, and a few eager fellows. Soon folks in one town were forming teams to play folks from nearby towns. Florida had its share of teams and many of them had colorful names, such as the Dixies, the Longfellows (all members were over 6 feet tall), the Quicksteps, and the Reliables. Professional teams developed as the need to defeat the neighboring town became more intense. John J. McGraw, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, came to Gainesville in 1891 to play shortstop for a team called the All-Stars. According to author Kevin M. McCarthy in his book, "Baseball in Florida," "…[McGraw's] contract stipulated that he would be fed and housed, given money for shaving and washing, and provided with one cigar a week." Unfortunately, the team in this photograph is unidentified, but the spirit of camaraderie and pride of being a part of the team are clear. (click image to view larger size)