Baseball has undoubtedly become America’s game, but its origins date back to 18th-century England. In 2013, American researcher David Block uncovered a 1749 article in the Whitehall Evening Post that described a royal game of “bass-ball” featuring Frederick Lewis, the Prince of Wales and the son of King George II, at Ashley Park in Surrey. It is highly likely that this game was more similar to rounders or cricket than modern-day baseball. The earliest known mention of baseball in the United States is found in a 1791 ordinance in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that prohibited the game from being played within 80 yards (73 meters) of the town’s meeting house.
As American as apple pie?
- Early forms of baseball had a number of names, including goal ball, round ball, fetch-catch, and stool ball.
- In many of the early games, a ball was thrown at a target while an opposing player defended the target by swatting the ball away. A batter scored points by running between bases while fielders retrieved the ball.
- In at least one variation, teams pitched to themselves, and runners ran around the bases in a clockwise direction.