Jun 14, 2013, 5:39 PM EDT
Longtime readers of my stuff — back to the Shysterball days — will recall my fascination with the early roots of baseball. The really early roots. Games like rounders, bat and trap, and stool ball. The games which, over time, meshed together in important ways to form what we now know of as baseball. It’s a fascinating history, featured in a great documentary, which reveals that baseball wasn’t truly invented. Rather, it evolved like many other bat and ball games, from some primordial common ancestor, probably in England.
Those who study all of this have spent a lot of time trying to find the earliest recorded reference to baseball. Before today that earliest reference was thought to be from the 1755 personal journal of an English nobleman named William Bray. Yes, Bill Bray. Yes, an actual ancestor of the major league relief pitcher Bill Bray. That was pretty cool. This news from the BBC, however, is cooler. UPDATE: way, way more information here at the SABR site.
The first recorded game of baseball took place in Surrey in 1749, a specialist in the game’s history says. Author David Block has discovered the reference in the Whitehall Evening Post, dated 19 September 1749 … The Whitehall Evening Post item reads: “On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball, at Walton in Surry; notwithstanding the weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several hours.”
They continued playing, I presume, because it was Ye Olde Getaway Day and the schedule didn’t have The Prince of Wales and Lord Middlesex meeting again for the rest of the season. This is what happens when you don’t like to schedule Ye Olde Doubleheaders because clubs are trying to horde as many pounds as possible. Either way, you’d think with people as important as royalty playing games that those cheapos at Walton in Surrey would get a retractable roof.
UPDATE: More from David Brock, describing his discovery:
Apr 21, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT
You probably know this, but the Kansas City Royals single season home run record is 36, and Steve Balboni set it almost 30 years ago.
Bryce Harper accused of begging out of a game in order to avoid Jose Fernandez and preserve a hitting streak
Apr 21, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
A report of some bad Nattitude in Washington.
Apr 21, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez exited Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with knee tendinitis, bending over at the waist in obvious pain after running out a ground ball.
Apr 21, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Someone needs to explain to 1995 Jim Thome that this is NOT how baseball is meant to be played.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Not that there was any doubt about Albert Pujols reaching 500 career homers by the end of the season, but his strong start for the Angels with a league-leading six bombs puts him just two long balls shy of the magic number.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Three weeks into the season and Cleveland manager Terry Francona has already called his first team meeting.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
Emotions are sure to run high at Fenway later this morning.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT
Lighten-up, baseball. It’s a fun game. Let’s let people actually have fun out there.
Apr 21, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
That’s patently ridiculous, of course. But that’s the kind of nonsense you get when you start attacking guys for their alleged lack of hustle.
Apr 21, 2014, 6:39 AM EDT
The Unwritten Rules strike again. Plus, I wish you all a happy Spring Thanksgiving.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:35 PM EDT
J.J. Hardy thought extension talks with the Orioles would have already been underway, but the club has been silent on the matter.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT
Ryan Howard is one of the more unlikely candidates to hit for the cycle, but he was one friendly scorer away from the achievement on Sunday against the Rockies.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
You’ll be seeing this play at the end of the season when the season’s wackiest plays are reviewed.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT
Oh, nothing, just Dexter Fowler being coached by arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history.
Apr 20, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
Ryan Braun likes hitting in the state of Pennsylvania.
Apr 20, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Jeff Francoeur is known for his arm, but who knew he’d be useful as a pitcher?
Apr 20, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
The Red Sox and Orioles teamed up for a touching tribute at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT
40-year-old Bobby Abreu is expected to join the Mets on Monday.
Apr 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Chipper Jones is not a fan of Carlos Gomez.
Apr 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw a 51-pitch, three-inning simulated game on Sunday in Los Angeles and could soon be cleared to embark on a minor league rehab assignment.
- Today is the Sox’ annual Patriot’s Day game. It’s more significant now than ever. 12
- Boswell: “Harper may be the Nats’ seventh-best player” 52
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 71
- Boston Marathon heroes remembered with pregame ceremony at Fenway Park 10
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple 180
- Hank Aaron is getting vile racist hate mail in retaliation for pointing out that racism still exists (249)
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple (180)
- “They Don’t Know Henry” (167)
- Doug Glanville’s story about being racially profiled at his own home (127)
- There is still a racial divide in baseball (113)