Monday, 2 Oct 2023

History of Baseball

History of Baseball

The origins of Baseball are uncertain.  There seems to be some traces of a game that was played using a ball and bat in Ancient Egypt around 2000 years ago and a display of this can be seen at the British Museum.

There were games played that were similar to Baseball in parts of Romania and Russia in the 14th century.  In the 1330s there was a popular game using a bat and ball played by French monks.  During this time William Pagula also wrote a poem that spoke of a game of Stoolball that the milkmaids would play in which they used their milking stools as wickets.  In Germany a game called Schlagball was played with a team of 12 players and is still played today.

Not much evidence is given that Baseball has its origins in the game Rounders.  It is more likely that Baseball and Rounders have the same origins as Cricket.  Cricket was brought in by Flemish shepherds, which they called krick, which means club or stick.  Cricket was first bought to England in the 14th century and became an organised form of sport in the 17th century.

There is evidence though that Baseball was being played in the 18th century in England.  In one of Jane Austen’s books she describes a woman who enjoys cricket, baseball and riding on horseback.  Another author, Johann Gutsmuth, also wrote a book in 1796 where he speaks of a game he calls English Baseball.  This does not however conclusively prove that Baseball originated in Britain.  There is a game called British Baseball and is still played today in Wales.

Who Invented the Rules?

Considered to be the inventor of Baseball rules is a man named Alexander Cartwright, who was a bookseller from New York.  In 1839 he founded The Knickerbockers and wrote the rules for Baseball in 1845.  The first Baseball game was organised in the US in 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey.  The very first Baseball game that was played however was played in Ontario, Canada in 1838.

How the Game Spread

The game of Baseball took off and the National Association of Baseball Players (NABBP) was established in 1850 and by 1876 the National League was well on its way.  The American people did their best to make Baseball a World Game and in 1878 Esteban Bellan introduced the game to Cuba.  From Cuba, Baseball found its way quickly into the Caribbean.  By 1870 Baseball has made its way to Japan from where it spread to Korea and Taiwan.

Baseball games were organised in countries like Australia, where Melbourne Cup betting now exceeds wagers on baseball, but the game remains popular, New Zealand and the South Pacific during 1888 and 1889.  Albert Spalding is responsible for taking Baseball to Italy in 1889.

It was during the 20th century that Baseball became known as an international sport and by 1903 the American League in the US started challenging the National League in the World Series.  Organised leagues began spreading across the world and by 1922 it was in the Netherlands, by 1934 in Australia, by 1936 it was in Japan.  Organised leagues had spread to Puerto Rico by 1938, to Venezuela and Mexico in 1945 and by 1948 to Italy.