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The Origin of Baseball

While the exact origins of baseball are unknown, most historians agree that it is
based on the English game of rounders. A game which began to become quite
popular in this country in the early 19th century, and many sources report the
growing popularity of a game called "townball", "base", or "baseball".

Throughout the early part of the 19th century, small towns formed teams, and
baseball clubs were formed in larger cities. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright
wanted to formalize a list of rules by which all teams could play. Much of that
original code is still in place today. Although popular legend says that the game
was invented by Abner Doubleday, baseball's true father was Cartwright.

For those of you who are steeped in the history and lore of the origins of baseball,
this has indeed been an exciting year. The reason that the baseball world is abuzz
is because there have been several notable recent “discoveries” relating to the
game’s beginnings that will provide grist for baseball historians for years to come.
In a series of related articles, I will describe these discoveries and explain their
significance to the development of the national pastime for they are all, in a real
sense, linked. They truly give sustenance to those who are fascinated by the
roots, the very origin, of what today is a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

The first recently uncovered jewel is what I will refer to as the “Pittsfield find,” a
bylaw from 1791 that was just uncovered in a small town Massachusetts
courthouse. 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 Roots

In order to fully appreciate the significance of these two discoveries, a short

baseball history lesson is in order. While the origins of the national pastime have
taken on mythical proportions, history tells us that as long as there has been a
child throwing a ball towards another child swinging a stick, there has always
been something akin to baseball. Historians have even traced loosely defined bat
and ball games to ancient civilizations. We know that contrary to the major
league sanctioned Mills Commission Report from 1907, issued after a three-year
investigation yielding scant evidence, the game was not “invented” out of whole
cloth in 1839 by Abner Doubleday one summer morning on a pastoral river bank
in Cooperstown, New York. 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. Some things are, however, certain. 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. Also, during the time period that our nation
was literally taking form, there are many references to youngsters playing “town
ball,” an American form of rounders, in village greens throughout the
northeastern part of the United States. 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” Find

In 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? Up until very recently, it was thought to be a scant 1823 reference
to the game of “base ball” being played in lower Manhattan in a little known
newspaper called the National Advocate. Now, however, thanks to baseball
historian John Thorn and Jim 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. That statute, written in
1791, over 200 years ago, aims to protect windows in a “new” town meeting house
by prohibiting anyone from playing “baseball” within 80 yards of the building.

This is a truly remarkable find as the written record now pulls the national
pastime into the 1700’s. This is decades before the previously found “earliest”
written reference. Further, the statute itself mentions other prohibited games
(wicket, cricket, batball, football, cats and fives) thus lending irrefutable evidence
to the fact that baseball, at least in 1791 America, was a distinct game with its own
identity. 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. We now know the
game was distinctive and we also know that the game – called “base ball” – was
popular enough to be prohibited! Did it have its own rules? Who knows, but I
am sure the Pittsfield find will induce others to crack open countless small town
courthouse records.

Neither spitting nor swearing were tolerated, nor could the thrower - as the
pitcher was known - throw a strike. If a hit was caught on its first bounce, the
striker - as the batter was known - was called out. And you didn't dare think
about stealing home.

These are but a few of the differences between the game of baseball of today and
when "base ball" first started in the mid-1800s, brought to life by the Ohio Village
Muffins and the Diamonds Ladies Base Ball Club. Organized by the Ohio
Historical Society (OHS). both teams play "base ball" as it was intended and
without the benefit of gloves, which hadn't yet been invented.

The two teams will play a number of "matches" and special events around the
state this month and at Ohio Village in Columbus, with the Muffins continuing
their games through early November. Both teams also will play host to the 12th
annual Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival during Labor Day weekend. They'll
welcome 18 gentlemen's and two ladies' teams to Ohio Village for the country's
largest gathering of vintage base ball clubs, representing eras from 1845 to 1924.

"The Muffins were the country's first vintage base ball team, formed in 1981 to
help re-create everyday life in a typical 1860s Ohio village, which ties right in
with Ohio's Bicentennial celebration," said Doug Smith, team manager of both
OHS teams, who works in the OHS education department. "We've also helped
inspire nearly 50 other vintage teams around the country and in Canada."

The Muffins' name playfully salutes the early days of the game when a "muffin"
was a player who fumbled the ball while trying to catch it. They wear a scarlet
bow tie, tall striped cap and a flowing white, shield-front shirt bearing a crim- son
"M," a uniform patterned after an 1866 Currier and Ives print called "The
American National Game."

Smith helped organize the Diamonds Ladies in 1994 to portray an 1860s women's
college team. Like the women they depict, they play their matches in full-length,
19th-century street clothes.

Base ball teams like the Muffins and the Diamonds Ladies had their roots in
several ball-and-stick games of the 1830s, especially the British game of rounders
and the American game of townball. In 1845, a group of New Yorkers founded the
Knickerbockers Base Ball Club and wrote the first set of rules. Other base ball
clubs quickly followed and devised their own codes. Soon the National
Association of Base Ball Players was formed, which standardized the game.

"At first, base ball was a game for the wealthy uppercrust, but it swiftly spread up
and down the social ladder," Smith said. "Anyone could play the game, so a whole
community could turn out for a picnic and a match, and they all could defend
their honor against a rival community. While a lot has changed, it's still the same
fun game at heart. Above all, though, the genteel men and women who originally
played the game of base ball in the mid-1800s were expected to be nice to each

(country living 2003)

The first recorded rules of Baseball were written 1845 in Manhattan. A group of
young men led by Alexander Cartwright, calling themselves the 'Knickerbockers'
wrote down the rules of a game that they were playing. These rules were the basis
of baseball and many of the rules are still used. Cartwright truly was the father of

In the mid-1800s, this game, called 'townball' 'base' or 'baseball' became more
and more popular. In 1857, a group of 25 Northeastern clubs sent delegates and
standardized the rules. In 1858, they formed the first baseball league, the
'National Association of Base Ball Players'. The league started giving games to the
public and charged an admission.

During the American Civil War, soldiers from the Northeast, where baseball was
flourishing, spread the game all over the country. After the war ended, baseball
had more than 100 clubs.

In 1869, the world's first professional baseball team formed. All previous players
were amatuer and unpaid. The Cincinnati Red Stockings recruited the best
players and no one beat the Red Stockings that year.


In the beginning baseball players did not wear gloves, they played bare-
handed. The first gloves were very thin and only covered the palm of the
hand. Today there are several different kinds of gloves. The catcher's
mitt is big, round, and padded. The first baseman's mitt is longer than
the other fielders' gloves, and an outfielders' glove is larger than an
infielders' glove.
The first bases used in baseball were four-foot high stakes. Too many
players ran into them and were hurt, so they tried big flat rocks. Players
were still being injured, so they finally filled soft sacks with sand. The
modern day bases are made similar to the sand filled bags.

Safety Gear
The first catchers in baseball did not wear any gear for protection.
Today's players wear a face-mask, helmet, chest protector, shin guards
and a cup. In the past, batters never wore a helmet. In 1952, the
Pittsburgh Pirates were the first team to wear helmets. They wore them
when they were batting and when they were playing in the field. A few
years later, they started to wear them only when batting. The first
helmet did not have an ear flap. The ear flap was designed for Little
League, and the major leagues copied this feature.

In the major leagues, only wooden bats are used. The rules say that the
bat can only be 42 inches long, and can only be 2 3/4 inches in diameter
at the thickest point. White ash is the best wood to use to make a bat. A
bat made out of white ash helps absorb some of the shock when hitting a
90 mile-per-hour pitch. Bats are cut and shaped to a hitter's
specifications. As many as sixty to seventy bats might be used by one
major league player in one season!

All baseballs are made the same size and weight. They are 9 to 9 1/4
inches in circumference and weigh 5 to 5 1/4 ounces. The center of the
baseball is cork. The cork ball is covered with rubber. Cotton and wool
yarn are tightly wound around the cork and rubber center. 150 yards of
cotton yarn (450 feet) and 219 yards of wool yarn (625 feet) are used to
make a baseball. If you stretched out the yarn from inside a baseball it
would be longer than three football fields! The cover a baseball is made
out of cowhide. Two pieces shaped like a peanut are sewn together by
hand with exactly 108 stitches. The Rawlings Company makes all the
baseballs for the major leagues.

Diamond court
Diamond court is made-up with four base and 1 pitcher plate. The is
one of the most important thing on playing the game base-ball. This
court is different from basketball and volley ball..
Physical Education


Submitted By:

Joram Adrian P. Gerio

Grade 6 – St. Peter

Submitted To:

Sir Michael Toldera