Friday, September 12, 2008

Early Reference to Baseball Found In England

For many years the myth that Civil War general Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1835 was prevalent. It was widely accepted trivia. In fact, if you ask people of my father's generation who invented baseball, I'd wager many would still say it was Doubleday's creation, taking place at Cooperstown New York.

Writer Henry Chadwick wrote in the early 1900's that baseball's origins were English. Albert Spalding -- yep, he of the sporting goods giant -- led a charge to establish the origins of baseball were American. Spalding received information erroneously attributing the game to Doubleday. The myth grew and spread from there. Doubleday himself never claimed to invent baseball.

The truth is, baseball is a mutt. There are various bat and ball games that date back to the 14th century. American baseball borrowed and adapted components from cricket, rounders, stoolball and a Scottish game called dog and cat.

A British researcher has found a reference to "Base Ball" 50 years before the term was used in America. English lawyer William Bray wrote in 1755, "Went to Stoke Ch. This morning. After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale’s to play at Base Ball with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford & H. Parsons & Jelly. Drank Tea and stayed till 8."

Yet another piece of cultural significance we stole from Britain. Like the tune to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," Three's Company, The Office, the English language, sandwich's and irony. But we invented Coca-Cola, right? We did. Pretty sure. Yeah, Coca-Cola, take that ya bunch a' Redcoats.

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