Who Invented Baseball?

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There are several stories of where the sport of baseball originated. For an extended period of time, it was believed that a man by the name of Abner Doubleday invented the game in the late 1830s. This claim is widely disputed however because when Doubleday died he left behind no evidence that he was involved with the sport at all. While Doubleday was indeed a well-respected individual during the Civil War, the invention of baseball is found nowhere in his journals or his obituary. According to Civil War General AG Mills, a crude form of the game was played during the Civil War to keep the troops alert while the battles were waning. Some think that the adoration for Doubleday eventually landed him the loving role of father of the game.

To find the true answer to who invented baseball, it is important to look beyond the stereotypical design of American baseball. Written accounts of games played with a ball and a stick (or, later, a bat or mallet) can be found as far back as the 1300s. All through history, there are verbal and written accounts relating to baseball games of some sort. These reports come from an impressive range of places: England, Romania, and later on, Canada. It is reported that the first recorded game in history occurred in Canada in 1838.

It is widely believed that much older games led to the annual creation of another sport that was once popular in England. The game, called Rounders, consists of two opposing teams alternating turns at fielding and batting. In Rounders, much like baseball, bases (or posts) are utilized, the game is played in innings and each team uses nine active players while fielding. The game was popularized in the mid 1800s and was an updated version of an older game that some refer to as stool-ball. These two games are believed to be the true inspirations behind the game of baseball which we are familiar with today.

In 1845, the first official rules for American baseball were written and associated by Alex Cartwright. Cartwright briefly lived in Hawaii where he founded a Hawaiian baseball league. This league would later be the model that the MLB's National and American leagues were built upon. Cartwright later went on to form a team in New York called the Knickerbockers. The first official game ever recorded in US history occurred in New Jersey in June of 1846. The game featured the New York Knickerbockers and a group known only as The New York Nine. Even though Cartwright was borrowing the game's structure from older games like Rounders, his creation of basic rules and guidelines leads many to believe that Cartwright is the true founder of American baseball. In 1953, the United States Congress entrusted official credit to Alex Cartwright for the invention of the modern game of baseball.