The origin of Baseball

Baseball likely had its origins in the early 1800s, possibly as a mash-up of a variety of different stick and ball games that had been around for centuries. These proto-baseball games included England’s cricket or rounders and even games played in ancient Egypt, by Mayan tribes, or in France, although the England story is the most plausible. A key member of the early Knickerbocker club was medical doctor Danial (Doc) Adams. Was soon club president whose rules would later form baseball rules.

 Some semblance of what baseball would become can be traced to 1800s New York as groups of men started crafting their own sets of rules. The Knickerbocker BaseBall Club of New York gets the credit for the first true effort, with a group of men on the rules committee outlining a 20-rule parameter, dubbed the Knickerbocker Rules, which set foul lines, the paces between bases, the limit of three outs, and, (in a safety-first mentality, no doubt) eliminated the dodgeball-style rule that to get a runner out you could hit him with a thrown ball. (The legions of players that came after can thank those men in New York for that rule.) In June 1846 these rules were used in a game between the Knickerbockers and cricket’s New York Nines, which is credited as the first official game of baseball. As it turns out, the real history of baseball is a little more complicated than the Doubleday legend. References to games resembling baseball in the United States date back to the 18th century. Its most direct ancestors appear to be two English games: rounders (a children’s game brought to New England by the earliest colonists) and cricket. By the time of the American Revolution, variations of such games were being played on schoolyards and college campuses across the country. They became even more popular in newly industrialized cities where men sought work in the mid-19th century. 

 You may have heard of a young man named Abner Doubleday who invented the game known as baseball in Cooperstown, New York, during the summer of 1839. Doubleday then went to become a civil war hero, while baseball became America’s beloved national pastime. Now who was Doubleday, Doubleday was born to a prominent family in upstate New York in 1819, was still at West Point in 1839, and he never claimed to have anything to do with baseball. Instead, he served as a Union major general in the American Civil war and later became a lawyer and writer. In 1907, sixteen years after Doubleday’s death, a special commission was created by the sporting goods magnate and former major league player A.J. Spalding was set up to determine baseball’s origin, namely if it was invented in the United States or derived from the game in the United Kingdoms. The commission used flimsy evidence supporting the claims of one man, mining engineer Abner Graves, who said he went to School with Doubleday to come up with an origin story, which managed to stick.

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