Who Invented Baseball?
Some people believe that a young man called Abner Doubleday, who lived in Cooperstown, New York, during the summer of 1839, was the inventor of the game known as baseball. After that, Doubleday went on to become a Civil War hero, and baseball went on to become America’s most treasured national sport. Not only is the narrative incorrect, but it is also completely out of context. Baseball’s true beginnings may be traced all the way back to the 18th century, at the very least.
Who Was Abner Doubleday?
A wealthy family in upstate New York, Doubleday was still a student at West Point in 1839, and he never claimed to have had anything to do with the sport of baseball. Instead, he fought as a Union major general during the American Civil War and went on to work as a lawyer and writer after the war. After Doubleday’s death in 1897, a special commission headed by sporting goods magnate and former major league player A.J. Spalding was established to determine the origins of baseball, specifically whether it was invented in the United States or derived from games played in the United Kingdom.
For its founding tale, the commission relied on scant evidence—the assertions of a single guy, mining engineer Abner Graves, who claimed he attended the same university as Doubleday—and it was successful in keeping it alive.
What Are Baseball’s Real Origins?
However, as it turns out, the true history of baseball is a little more difficult than the mythology of Doubleday suggests. In the United States, there have been references to games that are similar to baseball since the 18th century. There are two English sports that appear to be its most direct ancestors: rounders (a children’s game that was carried to New England by the first colonists) and cricket. The American Revolutionary War was fought during a period when variants of such games were being played on schoolyards and college campuses across the country.
The New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was established in September 1845 by a group of New York City businessmen.
He also outlawed the potentially lethal practice of tagging runners by hurling balls in their direction.
Against a team of cricket players in 1846, the Knickerbockers played the world’s first official baseball game, ushering in a new and distinctly American tradition. More information may be found at: Baseball Opening Day Fun Facts.
Who Really Invented Baseball?
Submitted by Marilyn Gould of Dreamstime.com The fascinating story of how World War I hero Abner Doubledayinventedbaseball in Cooperstown, New York, is probably familiar to you. Unfortunately, that is a little bit of a myth to begin with. While the real tale of who developed baseball is a little more complicated, it is no less interesting or fascinating. Baseball may have originated in the early 1800s as a mash-up of a number of various stickandball sports that had been prevalent for centuries at the time of its inception.
The origins of baseball may be traced back to the 1800s in New York, when groups of men began drafting their own sets of rules to play a game they called “baseball.” A group of men on the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York is credited with putting together the first true attempt, with a 20-rule parameter, dubbed the Knickerbocker Rules, outlining the foul lines, the paces between bases, the limit of three outs, and eliminating the dodgeball-style rule that if you hit a runner with a thrown ball, you were out.
- (The thousands of players who followed may give thanks to those men in New York for establishing that regulation.) Those rules were used in a game between the Knickerbockers and the New York Nines, which is regarded as the first official game of baseball.
- Daniel (“Doc”) Adams, a medical doctor who worked in New York City, was a founding member of the Knickerbocker club and eventually became its president.
- During the first convention of all baseball players in 1857, Adams expanded on the Knickerbocker Rules and created a more formal version known as the Laws of Base Ball, which was adopted as a result of the expansion.
- The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York was instrumental in the development of the game, which was made possible in part by the efforts of its members.
WBSC – World Baseball Softball Confederation
It was in the New York Knickerbocker Club, from 1845 and 1857, that the rules of baseball as we know it were set down, and it was at that conference that the National Association of Base Ball Players was founded that the modern game of baseball was born (NABBP). As a bookseller and the founding member of the Knickerbocker Club, Alexander J. Cartwright has been credited with the creation of 14 rules, which include the concept of three outs to close an at bat, the concept of foul ball, and the use of the verb ‘to pitch’ as opposed to previous terminology that used the verb ‘to throw.
It was at this meeting in 1857 that the clubs also agreed on the standard 90-foot spacing between bases, nine-man teams, and nine-inning games.
The overhand pitch would not be introduced into the game until 1884, as a result of the impact of the way the game was being played in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Game, as well as a variation of the game played in Philadelphia, known as Town Ball, have both remained popular diversions. The Knickerbockers game grew in popularity as a result of the Civil War, and by 1865 there were over 100 clubs participating.
Beginning in 1869, the National Association of Basketball Players (NABBP) legalized professional play. Founded in 1871, the Boston Red Stockings and the Boston Baseball Club are two of the most well-known teams in the city. The NABBP has been divided into two categories. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players eventually grew into the National League of Professional Base Ball Players. There were other other competitive professional leagues that established and collapsed on a regular basis before the American League stated in 1901 that it intended to function as a Major League.
In 1871, Albert Goodwill Spalding began playing professional baseball with the NABBP Boston Red Stockings, a team that is still in existence today. In 1876, he signed a contract with the National League’s Chicago White Stockings. He was one of the first pitchers to utilize a glove to protect his catching hand, making him a pioneer in the field. After the 1877 season, he decided to call it a day as a player at the age of 27 and went on to become the President of the White Stockings. Spalding was a well-to-do businessman.
- The Spaldings developed their business to include the manufacturing and distribution of a wide range of sports equipment.
- The group was known as the Spalding Baseball Promotional Team.
- The sport of baseball had already made its way to Cuba (1868), Australia (1869), and Japan by the time Spalding began on his trip (1872).
- Eventually, he was able to persuade Spalding that baseball was invented on the American Continent.
- Spalding backed Chadwik in his attempt to disprove what A.H Sedgwik had written in The Nation in 1869, claiming that baseball was descended from cricket.
- He discovered a resemblance between baseball and a French game called tecque, although he liked to assume that baseball originated in the cat games (cat is another way to name a ball).
According to Spalding, the idea to relocate “the thrower” in the middle of the action came from “an brilliant American lad.” Spalding reaffirmed his theory in 1904, claiming that Town Ball was developed from the cat-game tradition.
The Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, published a letter by Abner Graves in 1905, in which he claimed that the game of baseball was established in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839 by a military hero by the name of Abner Doubleday. The letter included a fascinating narrative. Cooperstown, New York, was founded by William Cooper, the father of renowned novelist James Fenimore Cooper, and was the first town in the United States to be populated entirely by people of European origin. In 1905, a Commission presided over by Abraham Gilbert Mills, the previous President of the National League, began the process of verifying the contents of the letter.
- Will Irwin discovered the next year that Doubleday had not been there in Cooperstown in 1839.
- Irwin’s findings were reported in Collier’s magazine.
- He gave Graves more credit than he deserved, sharing more information about the events of 1839 in 1912.
- Graves died in 1926, at the age of 92, after a long illness.
- Graves had slain his wife in 1924, and he was sentenced to death.
- Until 1939, the Graves version was in use.
The New York Times conducted an interview with historian Robert W. Henderson ahead of the ceremonies marking the centennial of Doubleday’s creation of baseball. His research revealed that the game of baseball was being played in Manhattan as early as 1823, more than 16 years before Doubleday established it, according to his findings. In 1838, a game was played in the Canadian province of Ontario. Since the Middle Ages, bat and ball sports have been popular throughout Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom.
- Balle empoisonnée, a game that was popular in France during the XVIII century, is described as follows: The Germans enjoyed a game of ballspiel.
- Gustmuths was a pioneer in the field of physical education.
- Baseball’s origins might extend much further back in time.
- Gini was under the impression that the game had been around for thousands of years.
- Essentially, he is arguing that games of bat and ball were popular throughout the Stone Age.
The narrative of little Lucy Ford, who learnt to play bat and ball from Native Americans, is told in a work of fiction: the novel Female Robinson Crusoe, written by an unknown author and published in 1837, which is based on the true account of Lucy Ford.
We will never be able to determine the original origins of baseball. Baseball, as we know it, began to take shape in the United States of America around 1845, according to historical records. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, many bat and ball games were transported from Europe to North America. Despite the fact that Americans did not develop baseball, the game that has become their National Pastime has been disseminated all over the world since it was first introduced in the United States in the early 1900s.
Today in Baseball History: A lie about how baseball was invented is born
The majority of people, up until not so long ago, would have said that “a guy called Abner Doubleday developed baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839,” if you questioned them about the origins of baseball. Because, until recently, a sign stating as such was located right next to the Hall of Fame, and people would believe them. Something like 1983 or something, there is a photo of my brother and myself standing next to it that is somewhere in my possession. That sign, as well as the underlying notion it promotes, is the result of one of baseball’s more egregious deceptions.
- It was on this date in 1908 that a group known as the Mills Commission produced a report to that effect, formally creating an incorrect baseball origin tale that would remain in the public’s mind for over a century.
- To comprehend how such a report might be made public, it is necessary to understand the ethnic/racial dynamics of the sport throughout its formative years.
- As the game’s popularity increased, so did the number of immigrants who participated in it.
- A strong, and fairly correct, belief existed at the same time that baseball originated from the English game rounders, which is predominantly played by school-aged children.
- It was Alexander Cartwright, who helped create and headed the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in New York and was credited with setting down the initial rules of baseball in 1845, who was the subject of the first generally accepted falsehood about baseball being a really American sport.
- Baseball is credited to Cartwright by many individuals associated in the sport, but the idea that it genuinely arose from rounders and other bat-and-ball activities from the British Isles has held sway for many years as well.
- That was something that Chicago Cubs president Albert Spalding and National League president Abraham G.
They sincerely desired — in fact, they need — baseball to be recognized as a national sport in the United States.
No rounders!” It was clear that something other than facts and reasoning was driving the feeling forward.
After calling for a formal investigation on how the sport was founded, Spalding completely skewed the probe in his own favor, which was completed in 1907.
It was Chadwick and anybody else who had identified rounders as the source who were deliberately excluded from the discussion.
As a result, Spalding and Mills continued to question people until they received an answer they liked.
They were eventually able to obtain one from a guy called Albert Graves.
In his book, Graves claims that Doubleday devised the game as a modified form of town ball, with four bases on the field and hitters attempting to hit balls thrown by a pitcher standing in a circle with a six-foot circumference around the field.
There were, of course, some issues with this approach. The following is a non-exhaustive list:
- The specificity of Graves’ recall concerning whatever it was he said Doubleday was doing in 1839 was highly doubtful given his age of five at the time. During Doubleday’s tenure as a cadet at West Point in 1839, there is no evidence that he traveled the 140 miles to Cooperstown, which would have required him to be absent for several days or even weeks at the time
- However, despite the fact that Doubleday was a significant man — he rose to the rank of major general in the Union Army during the Civil War — and that his correspondence and personal papers were well-preserved, none of that correspondence or any of those records ever referenced baseball
- Prior to the Graves letter, Mills was truly good friends with Doubleday but never once suggested a connection between his career — recall, he was president of the National League — and his buddy Abner
- In addition, it’s worth remembering that Albert Graves was eventually convicted of murdering his wife and spent the last few years of his life in a hospital specialized in treating criminally insane people. Maybe! Maybe it’s not the case! I just thought I’d include it here for completeness’ sake.
Doubleday died in 1893, long after baseball had established itself as a professional sport of national significance; therefore, if he had founded the sport, you would expect him or someone who knew him to have said anything about it, but no one had done so before to Graves. Of course, Doubleday’s death in 1893 made it a lot easier for Spalding and Mills to attribute characteristics to him because no one was present to object. Doubleday was declared the creator of baseball on April 2, 1908, by the Mills Commission, which accepted Graves’ tale and released The Mills Commission Report, which was approved by the public.
The game is a pastoral one, invented by a real Yankee who would go on to become a great American commander, not some mangled version of an English game adopted by Irish immigrants in the gritty metropolis.
Despite the fact that the Mills study was almost immediately discredited by a number of baseball historians, it remained the definitive record on the origins of baseball for decades afterward.
By the twentieth century, no legitimate baseball historian of any renown had given credibility to the Doubleday legend.
Here’s what Thorn had to say about Doc Adams, who played for the New York Knickerbockers in the 1840s, in a biography he wrote many years ago: It is a deception from beginning to end, from the origin myth to the rosy ideals of trade, community, and fair play that have characterized baseball’s history.
- What is the truth about the paternity issue?
- “Like Topsy, baseball never had a ‘fadder,’ it just grew,” he said.
- I know Thorn and can tell you that he’s a funny guy, but I believe he allowed himself to be even more freewheeling than usual with that passage.
- It had already been accomplished.
- He was not going to waste his time trying to figure out what the true shape of the Earth was.
- Similarly to what Thorn claimed when he stated that “Abner Doubleday,” “Santa Claus,” and “Dracula” are all mythological entities.
- I am certain that Abner Doubleday is the “Father of Baseball” based on the testimony of all of the historians I have interviewed.
- The letter from Selig was leaked to the press.
- “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” I reasoned at the time.
- In what I believe was a response to the mockery, Selig announced the creation of a commission tasked with researching the roots of the game of baseball the following spring.
I don’t recall if the committee ever issued an official document, such as The Mills Report, but I do know that Thorn has written and spoken extensively about baseball’s origins, both on his own and in his capacity as the Major League Baseball’s official historian, and he has never claimed that Abner Doubleday was the “Father of Baseball.” I’d bet money that if he ever did it, it was because he’d been abducted and that phrase was a code he was using to signal to his pals that he was in imminent danger of being killed.
- Because the Hall of Fame’s existence in Cooperstown was founded on the Doubleday legend in the first place, I know that if there were any official baseball institution or individual who would be a final holdout for Doubleday, it would be someone linked with the Hall of Fame.
- “There is no way to determine where the game was originally played,” former Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson previously stated.
- the game’s history was long and continuous, and there is no one, clearly recognizable beginning.” He stated this more than six years before to Selig’s letter.
- Some believe it was a late April Fool’s Day prank, carried out with Ruth and Gehrig’s knowledge and cooperation.
- In 1972, two days before his 48th birthday, Mets manager Gil Hodges died of a heart attack while vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida.
- A’s future free agents Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman, as well as a minor league pitcher, are traded to the Orioles in exchange for outfielder Don Baylor, pitchers Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell, and a minor league pitcher in return.
2001: Roger Clemens surpasses Walter Johnson as the all-time American League strikeout leader as he strikes out Joe Randa of the Royals, registering his 3,509th AL K and moving ahead of Johnson. Follow Craig Calcaterra on Twitter at @craigcalcaterra.
The History Of Baseball.The Ball Game And Where It All Began
Considering that Doubleday had away about a century ago, long after baseball had established itself as a professional sport on a national scale, you would expect him or someone close to him to have spoken anything about it, but no one had done so before to Graves. As a side note, the fact that Doubleday died in 1893 made it a lot easier for Spalding and Mills to assign characteristics to him because no one was around to object. The Mills Commission accepted Graves’ statement and produced The Mills Commission Report on April 2, 1908, announcing that Doubleday was the true founder of the game of baseball (see below).
- I beg your pardon?
- People began to poke holes in the tale as time passed, and finally began to blast holes through it as more people became aware of it.
- Thorn, who has written extensively about the myth’s legendary origins, is perhaps the most well-known historian to have denounced it.
- Not only is the Doubleday fiction, which is fruitless to fight, but even the slightly less legendary development of the Knickerbocker game, apparently spawned by Alexander Cartwright, is considerably inaccurate.
- “Like Topsy, baseball never had a ‘fadder,’ it just grew,” stated eighty-year-old Henry Chadwick in 1904, only one year before the Mills Commission was established.
- Because the Doubleday story was widely accepted by his peers by that time, I believe Thorn allowed himself to be even more freewheeling than usual with that passage.
- His argument against Doubleday was so well-established that he didn’t have to present any specific evidence.
This is analogous to an astronaut discussing flat-earthers in a scientific publication.
In all likelihood, he’d crack a joke or two.
It was for this reason that when former Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said the following in response to a letter he received from a baseball fan in October 2010, it was so surprising.
The historians I’ve spoken with all agree that Abner Doubleday deserves to be referred regarded as “the Father of Baseball.” There are some historians, though, who would argue with me on this.
My own opinion at the time was that Selig actually knew better, but he was delivering his own version of the”Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” thing and was attempting to maintain a myth that had, at least for a time, served the interests of the baseball organization.
According to my understanding, Selig announced the establishment of a committee dedicated with researching baseball’s historical beginnings the following spring, maybe in response to the mockery.
My recollection isn’t clear on whether the committee ever issued an official document, such as The Mills Report, but I do know that Thorn has written and spoken extensively about baseball’s origins, both as an individual and in his capacity as MLB’s official historian, and he has never asserted that Abner Doubleday is the “Father of Baseball.” I’d bet money that if he ever did it, it was because he’d been abducted and that phrase was a code he was trying to signal to his companions that he was in imminent danger of being captured.
- Because the Hall of Fame’s existence in Cooperstown was founded on the Doubleday legend in the first place, I know that if there were any official baseball institution or individual who would be a final holdout for Doubleday, it would be someone linked with it.
- “There’s no way to determine where the game was initially played,” former Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson previously stated.
- the game’s evolution was long and continuous and there is no one, clearly recognizable genesis.” Selig’s letter came more than six years after he said that.
- Others have speculated that it was a late April Fool’s Day prank done with Ruth and Gehrig’s cooperation.
- In 1972, two days before his 48th birthday, New York Mets manager Gil Hodges died of a heart attack in West Palm Beach, Florida.
- 1976: The A’s trade prospective free agents Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman to the Orioles in exchange for outfielder Don Baylor, pitchers Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell, as well as a minor league pitcher.
After punching out Royals pitcher Joe Randa, Roger Clemens surpasses Walter Johnson to become the all-time American League strikeout leader with 3,509 career strikeouts, passing Johnson. @craigcalcaterra is a Twitter account to follow.
Some Notable Dates
Cartwright formalizes the guidelines in the year 1845. The Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York City (which includes Cartwright) and the New York Baseball Club (which includes Cartwright) play the first documented game in 1846. Cartwright’s team loses. The first formal convention is held in 1857, when rules and topics are considered (25 teams were represented) The National Association of Baseball Players is created in 1858, and it goes on to become the first structured amateur baseball league in the United States.
- The first annual conference is held in 1868, and over 100 teams are represented.
- The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (National Association) is established in 1871 as the first professional baseball league.
- It is in 1882 that a rival league, known as the American Association, is created.
- The Players League, which is identical to the Union Association in structure, is created in 1890, but it suffers from severe financial difficulties once more.
- Players relocate to the National League when the American Association is forced to close its doors due to increased competition in 1890.
- The first World Series is played in 1903, and the first cork-filled baseball is introduced in 1911, making it easier for hitters to hit the ball.
- 1960: The danger of yet another league prompts the two existing leagues to increase the number of teams from 16 to 24.
“Babe” George is a nickname for George. Ruth was regarded as one of the best home run hitters in the history of the game. Hank Aaron was yet another prodigious home run hitter, and he held the record for most home runs hit in a career (755) until 2007. Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to break through the unwritten barriers of segregation in baseball. Known as “The Iron Horse,” Lou Gehrig played in 2,130 straight games and was the first player to win the Triple Crown in 1934. With the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle hit home runs with both his left and right hands, was named MVP three times, and won seven World Series championships in his career.
The year 1922 had the greatest combined score in the history of the Major League Baseball (Cubs 26, Phillies 23) A home run to center field is hit on the very next pitch by Babe Ruth, who announces his shot by pointing to the precise place in center field. A walk-off home run by Bobby Thomson gives the Giants a 3-2 victory over the Dogders. The result puts the Giants in first place in the National League Central Division playoffs.
Known as the “shot heard ’round the world,” this moment is now commemorated as such. The baseball coach’s spouse. Baseball summer camps may turn out to be the finest recruiting decision you’ve ever made for your team.
A Brief History of Baseball
The following story was originally published in 1995, just after baseball had returned to the field during the sport’s longest-ever work stoppage. As a result, labor relations in baseball have received a great deal of attention.
Origins of the Game
In contrast to professional basketball and American football, baseball has not been gaining widespread popularity throughout the world. In recent years, declining participation at the amateur level, combined with lengthy labor disputes at the professional level, has thrown “America’s Pastime” into an age of uncertainty. Although the sport is now facing some difficulties, baseball will always hold a significant role in American society. The first in a three-part series on the history of baseball, this piece is the first installment.
- However, while the actual roots of baseball are obscure, the vast majority of historians think that it was influenced by the English game of rounders.
- Throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, small communities organized baseball teams, and baseball clubs in bigger cities were formed.
- A large portion of that initial code is still in effect today.
- The first ever recorded baseball game took place a year later, in 1846, in New York City.
- These informal games became more regular and more popular as time went on.
- Twenty-five clubs from the northeastern United States submitted representatives.
- During its initial year of existence, the league was able to finance itself by charging supporters for entrance on an as-needed basis.
The early 1860s, on the other hand, were a period of enormous upheaval in the United States.
However, enthusiasm in baseball was spread throughout the country by Union soldiers, and by the time the war was over, there were more people playing baseball than at any previous time in history.
The costs of participating in the league increased as the league expanded in size.
Winning became extremely vital in order for teams to receive the financial backing they required.
Some were offered employment by sponsors, while others were discreetly paid a wage for simply participating in the sport.
Brothers Harry and George Wright gathered the top players from all around the country and defeated everyone in their path.
The concept of paid players quickly gained popularity.
As the best players moved on to the professional ranks, the amateur teams began to fade away. The National Association of Professional Baseball was established in 1871 as the first professional baseball league.
Professional Baseball’s First Hundred Years
The sport of baseball, in contrast to professional basketball and American football, has not captivated audiences throughout the world in recent years. “America’s Pastime” is entering a period of uncertainty as a result of declining participation at the amateur level and lengthy labor issues at the professional level. Although the sport is now facing certain difficulties, baseball will always hold a prominent position in American society. A three-part series on the history of baseball will begin with this piece.
- It is uncertain where baseball originated, although most historians think that it was influenced by the English game of rounders.
- Small-town ball clubs were founded throughout that century, and larger-city teams were formed as well during the early part of that century.
- Fortunately, most of that original code has survived to this day.
- An whole year later, in 1846, the first ever recorded baseball game took place.
- The frequency and popularity of these amateur games grew over time.
- Representatives from twenty-five clubs from the northeast were in attendance at the conference.
- While it was in its initial year of existence, the league made money by charging supporters to enter games on occasion.
It was, nevertheless, a period of enormous upheaval in the United States throughout this period.
However, enthusiasm in baseball was spread throughout the country by Union soldiers, and by the time the war was over, there were more people playing baseball than at any time in the last century.
The costs of participating in the league increased as the league expanded.
Winning became increasingly vital for teams in order to receive the financial backing they required.
While some players were offered employment by sponsors, others were discreetly paid a stipend for just participating in the sport.
Recruiting the top players from all around the country, brothers Harry and George Wright defeated everyone in their path.
Players who were being compensated became popular very quickly.
As the top players moved on to the professional ranks, the amateur teams began to wane. A professional baseball league was established in 1871, when the National Association was formed.
Labor Battles in the Modern Era
In contrast to professional basketball and American football, baseball has not sparked widespread interest throughout the world. The decline in amateur involvement, along with lengthy labor disputes at the professional level, has ushered in an age of uncertainty for “America’s Pastime.” Baseball will always hold a significant position in American society, despite the current challenges. This is the first in a three-part series on the history of baseball. Cricket is the most well-known of the stick and ball games, and it is played in almost every culture.
It began to gain popularity in this nation in the early nineteenth century, and several sources document the rise in popularity of a game known as “townball,” “base,” or “baseball.” Throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, small communities organized baseball teams, and baseball clubs in larger cities were formed as well.
- The majority of the original code is still in effect today.
- The first ever recorded baseball game occurred a year later, in 1846.
- The frequency and popularity of these amateur games increased throughout time.
- Twenty-five teams from the northeastern United States sent delegates to the conference.
- During its initial year of existence, the league made money by charging supporters to attend games on occasion.
- The early 1860s, on the other hand, were a period of enormous upheaval in the United States of America.
- However, enthusiasm in baseball was spread throughout the country by Union soldiers, and by the time the war was over, there were more people playing baseball than at any time in history.
As the league expanded in size, so did the costs associated with participating.
Winning became extremely vital for teams in order to receive the financial backing they required.
Some were offered employment by sponsors, and others were discreetly paid a wage for just participating in sports.
Brothers Harry and George Wright gathered the top players from all around the country and defeated every opponent they faced.
The concept of paying gamers immediately gained traction.
As the top players went pro, the amateur teams began to fall away. The National Association of Professional Baseball was founded in 1871 and was the first professional baseball league.
The Origins of Baseball by Baseball Almanac
The Origins of Baseball
The second is a classic attic find of the first card that clearly shows youngsters playing a bat and ball game, a rudimentary form of the game that evolved into our national pastime.Baseball’s RootsIn order to fully appreciate the significance of these two discoveries, a short baseball history lesson is in order.
Historians have even traced loosely defined bat and ball games to ancient civilizations.
Doubleday was, in many respects, a great man who achieved prominence as a Union General during the Civil War, but he had very little, if anything, to do with the game of baseball.In truth, the game evolved over many decades, if not centuries, and its roots are, in reality, a tangled web of bat and ball games brought to this country by immigrants.
We know that baseball does have definite ties to the old English game of rounders and its cousin, the more formal and genteel game of cricket.
Other similar ball games played on this side of the Atlantic Ocean in the late 1700’s and for the first decades of the 1800’s are the Dutch game of ‘stool ball,” an English game called “old cat” which actually featured a batter, pitcher and two bases, and yet another game balkanized from rounders called “goal ball.” In that game, the “goal” of the runner was to touch a series of bases.Against this backdrop, let me tell you about the two exciting artifacts that only a few weeks ago were totally unknown.The “Pittsfield” FindIn an attempt to date the birth of baseball in this country, as a distinct game from other bat and ball games that preceded it, historians have scoured public records, diaries and newspapers for decades in search of the elusive written word.
What is the earliest written “reference” to baseball as a distinct game in the United States?
Now, however, thanks to baseball historian John Thorn andJim Bouton(yes, the former major league baseball player), a bylaw has been uncovered from the musty records of a courthouse in a small town in western Massachusetts called Pittsfield.
This is decades before the previously found “earliest” written reference.
To put things into their proper historical perspective, the statute, with its specific reference to “baseball,” was written by the Pittsfield elders only four short years after the United States Constitution was ratified.
Did it have its own rules?
Hank’s acquisition was originally found in an attic in Maine many years ago and is new to the hobby.
Exactly what the game featured was called we may never know, but we can say with certainty that the image on the card is a close cousin to the game that today is commonly called baseball.
what game do you think it shows?
Does that game look familiar?1833 Baseball Illustration.(Scan Courtesy of FC Associates)How old is the card?
However, historians who have viewed this card have concluded that it was, in all likelihood, manufactured sometime within the first few decades of the 19 thcentury.
This was also a time period in which children’s educational game cards were popularized and produced as teaching aids in this country and in England.
None of other cards contain sport related subjects.
Although there are a few photographs, tickets and trade cards of ballplayers from the 1860’s, now, thanks to Hank’s keen eye, we have a card that pre-dates those examples by many years.
The study and significance of the Pittsfield bylaw, the 1830’s bat and ball game card, and other national treasures that I will write about in a future article will keep baseball historians busy for years.