ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Sports and Recreation»
  • Team Sports

The Origins & Secret History of Baseball

Updated on March 26, 2012

What is Baseball

Baseball is the archetypical sport of America. When you see a game of Baseball in progress, the first thing you think of is the USA. The great Baseball heroes are all American guys. They play the game that was invented for Americans, by Americans - Don't they?

Erm... No actually.

Where did it come from?

Americans tend to think that Baseball is an American invention - Wrong!

The Brits tend to think that Baseball is a corruption of a British game called Rounders - Wrong again!

Baseball is not a corruption of Rounders, played here  at Nowton Cricket Club in the UK
Baseball is not a corruption of Rounders, played here at Nowton Cricket Club in the UK | Source

Baseball was actually invented in England. It was originally called base ball, and the first description of the game surfaced in the year 1744 in a publication called The Pretty Pocket Book. It was a very popular publication in England and was also republished in America in 1762.

Catherine Moreland, the heroine of the novel Northanger Abbey, which was written in 1796, was described as preferring "cricket, baseball, riding on horseback and running about the country to books"

The game of Rounders (which most Brits erroneously think Baseball is based on), did not receive an airing in print until it appeared in the second edition of The Boy's Own Book in 1828 - some 84 years later.

The first printed instance of Rounders in America was in Robin Carver's The Book of Sports in 1834, and although he cited The Boy's Own Book as his source, he said that the game was called either "goal ball" or "base ball"

General Abner Doubleday
General Abner Doubleday

Birth of a Baseball Legend.

Meanwhile, back in America in 1907, Baseball was now regarded as such an American Icon, such an indispensable part of the very fabric of the USA, that it simply had to be made to have an official American birth, and so, a plot was hatched.

The Baseball authorities Major League's Executive Board first commissioned a report into the games origins. They then promoted the false history that Baseball had been invented by General Abner Doubleday, a Civil War hero, in Cooperstown, New York in the year 1839.

Doubleday however, had never visited Cooperstown. Neither had he ever mentioned Baseball in any of his diaries, and despite the fact that there was plenty of evidence that similar bat-and-ball games had been played all over early Puritan America, the report struck a chord with the American public and the story was accepted as the truth.

As they say, "Abner Doubleday didn't invent Baseball - Baseball invented Abner Doubleday"

Alexander Cartwright
Alexander Cartwright

The Real Inventor of Modern Baseball?.

If anyone could be said to have been the inventor of Modern Baseball as it is known today throughout the USA, It must surely be Alexander Cartwright.

Mr. Cartwright was a Manhattan bookseller and part-time volunteer fireman who, in 1842 founded the Knickerbocker Baseball Club, which was named after the Fire Engine Company of the same name.

Knickerbocker Baseball Team 1847
Knickerbocker Baseball Team 1847
The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond
The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond

"Every once in a while, a book publisher comes up with a great concept for a series of books that deserve more than superficial recognition. Such a series is "The Greatest (fill in the blank) Stories Ever Told", anthologies that should win places on many bedside tables. On the long winter nights that lie ahead, such stories make great reading." --The Lexington County Chronicle


The KnickerbockerBaseball Club comprised of Alexander Cartwright and a number of his Firefighter colleagues, and they played on a field situated near 47th and 27th Streets.

Alexander Cartwright was the first person to draw a diagram of the now familiar diamond-shaped field.

The rules of the modern game as we know it are based to a large extent on the by-laws of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club.

Alexander Cartwright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.


Submit a Comment

  • Gaizy profile image

    Gaizy 6 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    @ carcro - It came as a surprise to me as well!

  • carcro profile image

    Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

    That's real interesting, I always was led to believe baseball was invented in the states, oh well - we only know what we think we know, right? Thanks for the info!