According to many sources, the earliest appearance of the word “baseball” dates back to 1700, when the Anglican Bishop Thomas Wilson expressed his disapproval of “dancing with Morris, clubbing, baseball and cricket taking place on Sundays.” However, David Block, in Baseball Before We Knew It (2005), reports that the original source uses the word “stool” instead of “baseball”. Block also reports that the link dates from 1672, not 1700.
Woodcut from the 1744 British children’s book A Little Pretty Pocket-Book showing round posts and the first mention of baseball.
A 1744 book in England by children’s publisher John Newbery called A Little Pretty Pocket Book includes a woodcut of a ball-like game with three base chairs or round balls and a rhyme called “Baseball”. This is the first known use of the word “baseball” in print. –
In 1755, John Kidgell’s The Map, volume 1 on page 9, mentions baseball: “The younger part of the family, receptive to the Pope, not wanting to expand on the matter, retired to an aborted party at Baseball (a game for infants that, in adolescence, turned into Although The Little Pretty Book Book first appeared eleven years earlier, no copies of the first or other early editions have appeared to date, only the tenth and later editions from 1760. Thus, The Card was the oldest reference to baseball until Bray’s diary was discovered in 2008.
The earliest recorded baseball game was played by none other than the Prince of Wales family, played indoors in London in November 1748. The Prince is reported to have played Bass Ball again in September 1749 at Walton upon Thames, Surrey against Lord Middlesex. The English jurist William Bray wrote in his diary that he played baseball on Easter Monday 1755 at Guildford, also in Surrey. The word “baseball” first appeared in a dictionary in 1768 in the General Dictionary of the English Language compiled by the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica (first published the same year), with the useless definition “A country game in which the person who strikes the ball must run to his base or gate.”
Gutsmouth chart for English baseball, depicting the bat and the playing field.
By 1796 the rules of this English game were well enough established to merit a mention in Johann Gutzmuth’s German book on popular pastimes. In it, he described “Ball mit Freystäten (oder das englische Base-ball)” (“The ball with safe places, or English baseball”) as a contest between two teams in which “the batter has three attempts to hit the ball.” being at home plate”; it only took one strikeout to shut out the team. Gutsmouth included a field layout very similar to the city’s. It is notable that Gutsmuts is the first author to explicitly mention the use of a bat, although in this case it was a flat wooden paddle about 18 inches long that could be swung with one hand.
The French book “Les Jeux des Jeunes Garçons” is the second known book to contain printed batting/basic/running rules. It was printed in Paris in 1810 and lays out the rules of La balle empoisonnée (“poison ball”), which had two teams of eight to ten players, four bases (one called home), a pitcher, a batter, a “soak” and outs with flyball; however, the ball appears to have been hit by hand.
Another early printed reference is Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, originally written in 1798–1799. In the first chapter, the young English heroine Katherine Morland is described as preferring “cricket, baseball, horseback riding and country running to books”. Around the same time, Austen’s cousin Cassandra Cook mentioned baseball in her novel Battle Bridge.
In his 1820s Country Sketch, Jack Hatch, author Mary Russell Mitford wrote:
Then a sun-burnt six-year-old gypsy appears, who begins to grow and lose weight and find the cares of the world that has gathered around her; with a jug in one hand, a mop in the other, an old straw hat of an ambiguous shape, half hiding tangled hair; a tattered petticoat, once green, dangling under an equally tattered cotton dress, once purple; her passionate eyes never left the baseball game on the corner of the lawn until she reached the door of the cottage, threw down the mop and pitcher, and rushed to her comrades, despite the flurry of scolding with which her mother followed her darting steps.
In 1828, William Clark of London published the second edition of The Boy’s Own Book which included the earliest known mention of a game called “round arrows” and contained under that heading the first printed description in English of a baseball battle and ball game on a diamond.
The following year the book was published in Boston, Massachusetts. Similar rules were published in Boston in The Book of Sports written by Robin Carver in 1834, except that Carver called the game “Base or Assist”. Clark’s “round” description would be reprinted many times on both sides of the Atlantic in the following decades under various names.
Early baseball in America
It is difficult to chart the evolution of the game that developed into modern baseball before 1845. The Knickerbocker rules describe a game they have been playing for some time. But for how long – it is not known how the game developed. Shane Foster was the first to suspect how the lineage came into play.
Once upon a time there were two camps. One, mostly English, claimed that baseball originated from a game of English origin (probably rounds); another, almost entirely American, said that baseball was an American invention (perhaps derived from the one-cat game). Apparently, they considered their positions mutually exclusive. Some of their points seem more like national loyalty than evidence: Americans tended to dismiss any suggestion that baseball originated from an English game, while some English observers concluded that non-round baseball was little more than their all-rounder. . One English author has gone so far as to state that the Knickerbocker club is made up of English expatriates who first introduced “their” game to America in 1845. The Mills Commission, on the other hand, created an “official” and entirely fictional American-wide version crediting the invention of the game to Abner Doubleday in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York (the current site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum).
Both were completely wrong, because one thing is clear: baseball or the game called “baseball” had been played in America for many years by that time. The earliest direct reference to the game in America is from March 1786 in the diary of Princeton student John Rhea Smith: “It’s a fine day, playing baseball on campus, but I get hit because I miss ball and ball.” A possible reference to a generation older from Harvard; describing the campus in the 1760s, Sidney Willard wrote, “In addition to food, it sold student supplies and items used in playgrounds such as bats, balls, etc. .…Here we wrestled and ran and played quotes and cricket and various bat and ball games.”
A 1791 ordinance in Pittsfield, Massachusetts prohibited the playing of “any game of wicket, cricket, baseball, batball, football, cats, fives, or any other ball game” within 80 yards of the city’s meetinghouse so as not to damage its windows. Worcester, Massachusetts banned the game of baseball “in the streets” in 1816.
There are other references to baseball in the early 19th century.
The April 25, 1823 issue of the National Advocate stated the following:
Last Saturday, I was very pleased to see a group of active young people playing the men’s and sports game of baseball at a retreat on Broadway. (Jones). I was informed that they are an organized association and that a very interesting game will be played next Saturday at the place indicated above, starting at half past three. Anyone wishing to witness this game can take advantage of seeing it played with unsurpassed skill and amazing dexterity.
Two years later, in the July 13, 1825 issue of the Delhi (New York) Gazette, the following statement appeared: towns in Delaware County to meet them at any time at Edward’s house. B. Chase, in a designated city, to play Bass Ball for one dollar a game.”
Thurlow Weed, in his memoirs, recalls an organized baseball club in Rochester, New York in 1825:
Despite the fact that the city was hardworking and busy, its inhabitants found leisure for rational and healthy recreation. The baseball club, with almost fifty members, met every day during ball season. Although the members of the club were from eighteen to forty years of age, it attracted young and old alike.
The first recorded game of baseball under the later codified rules was played in New York City on September 23, 1845 between New York Baseball. Club and the baseball club Kickerbocker. American baseball was allegedly played in Beechville, Ontario in 1838. However, there is no consensus on the rules that were used and whether it can be considered the first “baseball” game. First-hand testimony and the rules of the game were recalled by Dr. Adam E. Ford, who witnessed the game as a six-year-old boy, in an 1886 issue of Sporting Life in Denver, Colorado; He described the game in great detail, including the exact distance between the wrong bases and the construction of the ball. od