The decades follwing the Civil War witnessed remarkable and widespread changes in the United States. It is a period in which the corporate culture of today found its proliferation in all aspects of culture -- politics, education, family, and the arts. The expansion of capitalist power manifested itself in baseball as well. Once purely amateur recreation, the game quickly professionalized, undergoing decades of turmoil as the sport was fit to a corporate model.

Problematizing baseball's incorporation was the nature of the labor. In most industries owners could lower manufacturing costs by investing in new plants, equipment, and production processes. Such investments served to lower the premium on skill, allowing the labor market to expand to less-skilled workers, making use of the remarkable influx of Eurpopean immigrants. Baseball, conversely, was a high-skill, labor intensive industry. Employees were by no means interchangeable, and if the talent base were watered down, customers would be driven away. Thus, possible owners faced the conundrum of huge marketplace pressure with less adequate controls than their capitalist breathren. The struggle for profits was bitter, and largely evidenced itself in player-owner relations.