Society

Where Did Baseball Originate?

Historians believe that baseball is derived from ancient games like rounders game.

Every game or sport evolved from simple origins to complex and competitive structures witnessed today. Baseball is not different either although there seems to be no clear agreement on the game’s exact origin. This game belongs to the bat and ball family of games like cricket and involves playing between two teams at a time, each consisting of nine players. The teams take turns in playing, what they term as batting or fielding. During the game, the team that is batting has a player on the Homeplate who tries to hit the ball that the opposing team’s pitcher throws. If the player successfully hits the ball, he or she runs anti-clockwise on the diamond shaped area back to the Homeplate before the other team catch and throw it back. At the end of the game, the team with the highest number of runs after nine innings wins.

Origin Of Baseball

Efforts to trace the exact origin of baseball have not yielded much, however, French manuscripts like thèque and la balle empoisonnée and other manuscripts of 1344 depict illustrations of vicars playing a bat and ball game like baseball. Historians believe that baseball is simply an evolved form of rounders game that was popular in the Great Britain and still very popular among children across many African countries and evidently, the basic foundations of the two games link. A Little Pretty Pocket Book, a 1774’s British publication, fairly describes how people played a bat and ball game in a triangular field of play with posts on each corner. This description closely relates to today’s diamond shaped field and ground bases. The Prince of Wales, according to records, played such a game in 1749 whereas English Attorney William Bray also records the same game on Easter Monday of 1755. From this point, historians believe that English immigrants brought the game to North America. The first known mention of Baseball was in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1791 and by the 1830s, North America started recording several versions of baseball.

Commission Of Inquiry Into The Origin Of Baseball

In 1903, Henry Chadwick published an article that delved into the origin of baseball and explained that the game originated from Great Britain’s game of rounders. After reading this, and believing that the game was a US invention, Albert Spalding convinced Chadwick that they should set up a joint commission of inquiry to unravel the truth. They appointed Abraham Mills to head the commission which worked for three years and came up with a conclusion that Abner Doubleday invented baseball thus anointing him as the father of baseball. Doubleday was a Civil War hero and, by the time of this finding, had died fifteen years earlier.

The Abner Doubleday Theory

The commission of inquiry’s finding that Doubleday had invented baseball during the summer of 1838 in Cooperstown, New York lasted for a few years before people started questioning the credibility of the theory. Further research that led to the opposition of the theory indicated that in 1839, Doubleday was actually at West Point. Furthermore, Doubleday did not act or claim to have knowledge of baseball or the game’s rules and therefore, by the 1930s, this theory died a natural death.

Alexander Cartwright’s Contribution to Baseball

One of the first baseball clubs, New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club, and its founder, Alexander Joy Cartwright, formulated most of the baseball rules in 1845. Cartwright and his team saw the need to develop the sport and do away with elements of the game that were seemingly unsafe. These rules brought order to the game, introduced the three-strike rule, and the diamond shaped infield thus many people referred to Cartwright as the true father of baseball.

Where Exactly Did Baseball Originate From?

Baseball is a popular North American game, although when it comes to the origin, American and English sports historians disagree. People tend to hold dearly to the heritage associated with an invention and, as in this case, this seems to be the only obstacle in finding baseball’s true origin. While the two parties do not dispute the fact that baseball evolved from other bat and ball games, the world may never truly know where the game originated from because both sides of the argument have supporting facts. Maybe there was a stick and ball game in the US that evolved into baseball or maybe the real origin of the game is Great Britain’s rounders.

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