I'm now a member of SABR -- the Society for American Baseball Research. This is a pretty intense little group, at least the 19th century component, and it is fascinating to watch these guys grind away via the mailing list.
Here's a nice new piece by SABR member John Thorn: A really good find: The Magnolia Ball Club of 1843, which digs into some of the early social history of base ball in New York. It is still very much contested territory (as it was then), balancing out the influence and importance of working and professional classes. Thorn manages to weave both Walt Whitman and Bill the Butcher (from Gangs of New York into his tale.
Also, as an aside, I'd note that this article has a lot of the flavor of an i-search paper. I think people assume that "i-search papers" are a totally contrived, dumbed-down style of academic writing. They aren't. Lots of magazine writing takes on the form.