Paper on History Of Baseball

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History Of Baseball

There is often disagreement about the origin of the baseball. For more than 90 years,
people have believed in the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball. Baseball
developed slowly, and changed with time, and that is why it is called America's national
pastime. Some believe it was a popular game from England where milkmaids and farmer hands
would toss a softball underhand and hit it with a closed fist. Others even say it was
evolved from cricket. From 1905-07, a special investigation was done to find the beginning
of baseball. An old man, claiming to be one of Abner Doubleday's childhood's friend, swore
that he invented baseball in 1839, in Cooperstown, New York (Stewart 5). The fact of the
matter is Doubleday was at the United States Military Academy at West Point when he
supposedly invented this game. There was also a diary found of his, and there were no
writings that mentioned baseball.

Baseball has been tracked as far back as the late 1700's, along with a few other
children's games. These include bat and ball, stool ball, town ball, and one-old-cat.
These games all had different rules, but they all had something in common; the ball is
thrown to a person with a bat, that person hits the ball, and runs to the bases. Sound
familiar? This game was also known as rounders, which was mostly played by girls
(Margolies, 11). This game came to the United States in the 18th century by the English
immigrants. Rounders included the four bases, a feeder, and a striker (pitcher, and a
batter). A player was called "out" when they swung and, missed the ball three times, being
struck by the ball, or an outfielder caught a fly ball (Stewart 6).

Playing a sport in the 1700's was frowned upon. Working up a good sweat was considered
harmful. Physical games and competitions were unheard of. Any kind of simple competitions
were viewed as pastimes for children and low-class ruffians. Part of the problems was that
the English had invented this game, and the Americans, at the time, did not like the
English. If Englishmen liked to play games, Americans did not.

More people were moving to the cities, and found that their jobs did not require physical
labor. The workers found themselves with more time and energy on their hands. There was an
increasing demand for some kind of outlet. There was a need for some kind of organized
sport for adults. Americans wanted a game of there own; a game that would not be called
childish (Stewart, 7).

In New York City, a group of young men decided to make the game of rounders more suitable
for adults. There have been records that indicate the game called "base ball" was played
in what is now considered to be lower midtown Manhattan in 1842. On September 23, 1845,
the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club- baseball's first "team"- was formed in New York City.
There was no other baseball club that was more influential than the Knickerbockers. Its
founder was a bank clerk named Alexander J. Cartwright, and the co-founder, Dr. Daniel
Adams. The Knickerbockers adopted baseball's first uniform, which consisted of blue pants,
white shirts and straw hats. Cartwright and Adams were responsible for coming up with some
of the rules of baseball, although they have been changed. November 18, 1853 there was a
meeting held to decide who should be on the committee to make all the rules. Dr. Adams,
Abraham Tucker, and Duncan Curry were among the ones that were chosen (Stewart, 6-7). They
made up 17 rules, which were: the bases should be home, to second base, 42 paces; and from
first to third base, 42 paces, halfway; and from home to pitcher not less than 15 paces.
The game is to consist of 21 counts or aces, but at the end an equal number of hands must
be played. The ball must be pitched to the bat. A ball knocked outside the range of the
first or third base is foul. Three balls being struck at and missed, and the last one
caught, is a hand out; if not caught considered fair and the striker bound to run. A ball
being struck or tipped and caught, either flying or on the first bounce, is a hand out. A
player must make his first base after striking a fair ball, but should the ball be in the
hands of an opponent on the first base before the runner reaches that base, it is a hand
out. Players must make the bases in the order of striking, and when a fair ball is struck
and the striker not put out, the first base must be vacated as well as the next base or
bases if similarly occupied; players must be put out, under these circumstances, in the
same manner as when running to the first base. A player will be out, if at any time when
off a base the ball in the hands of an opponent will touch him. A player, who will
intentionally prevent an opponent from catching or getting the ball, is a hand out. If two
hands are already out, a player running home at the time a ball is struck, cannot make an
ace if the striker is caught out. Three hands out, all out. Players must take their strike
in regular rotation; and after the first inning is played the turn commences at the player
who stands on the list next to the one who lost the third hand. No ace or base can be made
on a foul strike. A runner cannot be put out in making one base when the pitcher makes a
balk. One base is allowed if the ball, when struck, bounds out of the field. The ball must
weigh from five and a half to six ounce, and be from two and three-quarters to three and a
half inches in diameter (Sullivan 18-19). The ball was delivered from 45 feet away. A
batter could run up and clobber the ball. Fielders did not have to run, catch or throw
well for any ball caught on one bounce was an automatic out (Stewart 10).

During 1846 the city was getting very populated. There was no place for the Knickerbockers
to play, so they hopped on the ferry and went to Hoboken, New Jersey. There they rented
Elysian Field to play their game. Although the Knickerbockers were the like most, they
were not the best. They were just one of the hundreds of teams that were formed on the
East Coast between the 1840's and 50's. Most of the players were bankers, teachers,
attorneys, or artisans, who were from the middle class workers. Members of the working
class, such as manual laborers and factory workers, also had clubs. These clubs were
usually less organized, and did not collect as much money. In 1859, the first college
baseball game was held between Williams and Amherst in Massachusetts.

During the 1840's no other teams challenged the Knickerbockers, so they divided themselves
into two teams of nine players and played against themselves. In 1850, the Washington Club
became known. From 1851-53, the two teams played two matches a year. By 1854, the Eagle
Club and the Empire Club were organized, and by 1855 there were 11 baseball-playing clubs
in New York and Brooklyn. There were also clubs in Long Island and Newark, New Jersey
(Stewart 8).

In 1858, a convention was held and the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP)
was formed. All members agreed to play by the rules as long as they played until one team
scored to 21, but after the NABBP was formed it was agreed that the games would last nine
innings regardless of the score. By the 1860's many clubs had joined the NABBP, increasing
its members to more than 50 clubs (Stewart 9).

The sporting press got a hold of baseball in 1853. There were no leagues or schedules, but
on any afternoon around three o'clock there was usually a game being played somewhere in
almost every eastern city. The way the clubs were divided was done an interesting way. It
was divided sometimes by age, or last initial, or by the married men playing against the
single men.

Baseball games were usually special events in the 1850's and part of an overall festival
day. After the game there would be an expensive dinner, followed by many speeches and
presentations, which lasted until morning.

On the field players were mostly friendly and courteous. If an error was made the player
might stop the game to apologize. If a player made a good play he would be congratulated
by all. Although baseball was highly social, the good players on the team were getting
frustrated with the not so good players. The good players felt there should be practice
before games. In the late 1850's these individuals began pitching harder, making less
errors in the outfield, having more double plays, and stealing more bases. Some clubs went
far to have the best players on their team. They started to pay the players for their
services.

1858 was the first time that money was being offered to baseball players during a series
of an all-star game between New York and Brooklyn players. More than 5,000 fans showed up,
and paid for their way into the Brooklyn's Fashion Course. Knowing that people would pay
to watch this game, club directors started to find the best players. Salaries were still
against the NABBP, but clubs got away with it by promising to hold benefit games and to
hand over the profits.

During the Civil War from 1861-1865, baseball changed dramatically. This sport was
introduced to many young men. Between battles, the Union soldiers played baseball. It was
perfect since it required minimal equipment, four bases, a bat and a ball, all of which
was around. Soldiers from New England taught the game to soldiers in Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Those who were captured and kept as POW's in the South
taught the game to their Confederate jailers. After the war was over, the NABBP went from
a few dozen clubs to nearly 100 clubs in 1865 (Stewart 12).

There was a higher demand to move baseball to higher levels in the late 1860's. Many teams
by this time were made up of entirely paid ball players, even though the NABBP did not
approve of it. The desire to play the best baseball team possibly led to a practice called
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