Skip to content

A reference to baseball found … from 1749

Jun 14, 2013, 5:39 PM EST

Frederick Prince of Wales

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 roundersbat 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:

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Pablo Sandoval chose the Red Sox over the Giants because he felt disrespected

    Nov 24, 2014, 6:05 PM EST

    pablo sandoval getty giants Getty Images

    Pablo Sandoval felt disrespected by the Giants, so he chose to sign with the Red Sox.

  2. The Red Sox will introduce Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez at a press conference tomorrow

    Nov 24, 2014, 5:05 PM EST

    Hanley Ramirez Getty AP

    “Hi, I’m Pablo,” and “Hi, I’m Hanley,” they’ll say. “Good to meet you.”

  3. Dodgers acquire Juan Nicasio from Rockies

    Nov 24, 2014, 4:48 PM EST

    Juan Nicasio Getty Getty Images

    Nicasio was designated for assignment by the Rockies last week.

  4. Rangers sign Ed Lucas

    Nov 24, 2014, 4:16 PM EST

    Ed Lucas AP

    Lucas gets an invitation to spring training after hitting .255 with five homers and a .624 OPS in 163 games for the Marlins.

  5. UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical

    Nov 24, 2014, 3:48 PM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP AP

    A huge day for the Red Sox starts out with a Panda.

  6. Andrew Miller is not re-signing with the Orioles

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

    Andrew Miller AP

    Baltimore acquired Miller from Boston on July 31 and he pitched brilliantly down the stretch and into the playoffs.

  7. Josh Willingham is retiring

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:19 PM EST

    Josh Willingham Getty Images

    He played 11 seasons in the majors for the Marlins, Twins, Nationals, A’s, and Royals.

  8. Kyle Seager, Mariners close to $100 million extension

    Nov 24, 2014, 12:12 PM EST

    Kyle Seager AP

    Seager has emerged as one of MLB’s best all-around third basemen at age 27.

  9. Orioles reassign hitting coach Jim Presley for personal reasons

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:50 AM EST

    Jim Presley Orioles Getty Images

    Presley has been the Orioles’ hitting coach since 2011.

  10. The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot is out — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez are new on the ballot

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:03 AM EST

    Boston Red Sox Getty Images

    Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson should be shoe-ins. But which newbies — and which holdovers — also have a shot?

  11. Twins hire new pitching coach Neil Allen from Rays’ minors

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:47 AM EST

    neil allen

    Allen was the Triple-A pitching coach for the Rays from 2007-2014.

  12. Sandoval and the Red Sox is not done yet, but . . .

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:33 AM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP

    I assume it will only be a matter of time.

  13. Before you go citing 2011 . . .

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:57 AM EST

    Best Team

    It’s easy to say “it didn’t work before, so it won’t work this time,” but doing so is to misread the current situation with the Boston Red Sox.

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (5705)
  2. J. Lester (3536)
  3. Y. Tomas (3496)
  4. H. Ramirez (3019)
  5. G. Stanton (2818)
  1. J. Upton (2645)
  2. A. LaRoche (2588)
  3. T. Hunter (2517)
  4. M. Scherzer (2261)
  5. B. Butler (1998)