When people think of baseball they tend to think of a similar picture: a large stadium that smells vaguely of grass and beer, long summer afternoons that turn into summer nights without much fanfare (or anyone noticing), and the cracking sound of the bat as it hits the ball. Or perhaps, they think of the more parochial version of the sport, with children playing in the field while their parents and teachers sit on the sidelines, idly chatting and watching the game. In either scenario, or even in any other, there is one constant: baseball itself. However, the game didn’t always quite look the way it does nowadays. In fact, a look back over the history of baseball will show a sport quite different to the one we all picture today.
Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that this all-American past-time was actually invented in England. One of the earliest references to baseball was made by Jane Austen in her 1817 novel Northanger Abbey. To be a bit more precise, but that point baseball as we know it hadn’t yet been invented and the game was only a cousin of baseball, most likely similar to the sport of rounders, named so because it’s the goal of the hitter to round the bases.
American baseball is nearly impossible to trace any earlier than the 1840s. As most folk sports, so called because they were played by majority of the people of any given country, baseball had a long folk history before being codified. Even though Abner Doubleday is credited with the invention of baseball there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to substantiate this rumour, but the fact that the myth was propagated by Major League Baseball meant that it caught on dramatically. Although he was instrumental in its standardization, he was not responsible for its creation.
The Knickerbocker Rules were a set of club rules that the Knickerbocker club in New York City created so its members could play a game called ‘base ball’. These are the rules most commonly (and accurately) associated with the early development of the game.
In these early days, the late 1840s and early 1850s, baseball was still very a leisure past-time and one enjoyed at a local level. It wasn’t for another half-century before the big leagues were formed that gave rise to some of the major teams we still have today and some of the baseball legends, as well as other annexe aspects of the games, such as sports betting on sites like BetDSI or other famous sportsbook bettors.
But despite its almost now mythic and almost mythical origins it seems that baseball is most definitely here to stay for quite some time. So whether you’re the type who enjoy watching the professionals or the children in the village park, get out there and enjoy the summer baseball season!