About the Book
Since its inception, The National Pastime has featured excellent research and essays about baseball history. This year, though, we asked our contributors to point their lenses not toward the past, but toward the future.
In 2020, SABR conducted a survey that invited respondents to answer questions about baseball twenty years in the future, framed by the following understanding: “[T]hat just as baseball, and its history, is a reflection on culture and society in the past and present, it could also be an input, context, and/or predictor for predicting plausible futures of the United States and other countries.” The goal became to predict what the world might be like in 2040, and how that will be reflected in the game we love.
There are so many factors affecting our collective future, ranging from climate change to advances in technology, from medical breakthroughs to the ways baseball will adapt itself to changing tastes, from rules innovations to new forms of media consumption and fan interaction. This issue includes incisive essays on the future of the baseball uniforms, the Hall of Fame, fan experiences and the media, the future of baseball cards, climate change and baseball, as well as more speculative imaginings, in the form of press releases from the future and even thought-provoking futuristic flash fiction. The All-Star lineup includes Hugo Award-winning science fiction author Harry Turtledove, technology thought leader Cathy Hackl on baseball in the metaverse, MLB Network’s favorite chemist and climate scientist Dr. Lawrence Rocks, Sidewise Award winner (and son of major league catcher Del Wilber) Rick Wilber, and many more. NFTs, virtual reality, machine learning, materials science—every cutting edge technology will have its effect on baseball as we know it, and just as baseball itself was integral to the development of previous broadcast media from radio to streaming video, the sport will continue to be the proving ground for new uses of technology yet to come.