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Sunday, 18 March 2012



It is a matter of record that in the 1700s English boys played a game they called base ball.

Americans have played a kind of baseball since about 1800. At first the American game had different rules and different names in various parts of the country--town ball, rounders, or one old cat.

Jane Austen made the first recorded use of the word "baseball" in English. The English author mentioned baseball in her novel Northanger Abbey when she wrote “It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at 14 to books.”

On a hot summers day in 1839, a West Point cadet, Abner Doubleday, laid out the first baseball diamond at Cooperstown, New York. Doubleday had devised a scheme for limiting the contestants on each side and allotting them to field positions each with a certain amount of territory; also substituting the existing method of putting out the base runner for the old one of plugging him with the ball. In 1907 a special commission decided that the modern game was invented by Doubleday.

Baseball did not receive a standard set of rules until 1845, when "father of modern baseball," Alexander Cartwright, organized the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York City. The rules Cartwright set up for his team were widely adopted by other clubs and formed the basis of modern baseball. Among his innovations were the nine-member team, the "diamond" infield with bases 90 feet apart, and the rule that a player had to be tagged, not hit, with the ball to be called out.

It is widely thought that the first competitive game under the new rules was played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846 with Cartwright umpiring. The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.
Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey 

In the 1850s, baseball had different rules in Massachusetts than it did in New York. Under the Massachusetts rules, you could throw the ball at a runner, and if you hit them, they were out.

In 1857, amateur clubs joined together in the National Association of Baseball Players, which produced the first uniform rules. They stipulated that a batsman was out when a batted ball was caught either in the air or on the first bounce. The length of a game was fixed at nine innings.

The National Association of Baseball Players adopted the rule in 1859 that limited the size of bats to no more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

It is said that when a delegation of politicians called on Abraham Lincoln to inform him of his nomination for the presidency, he was engaged in a game of baseball and kept the men waiting until he had had another chance to make a base hit.

In 1869, Harry Wright organised the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in which regular salaries were paid to the players. This was certainly a revolutionary - and ardently criticised - step at the time.

At the first professional baseball game, the umpire was fined 6 cents for swearing.

Baseball's National League was founded on February 2, 1876. Eight competing baseball teams met in New York City's Grand Central Hotel. The first president of the new league was Morgan Gardner Bulkeley, who later became a US Senator.

The eight original cities with teams were: Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Louisville and Hartford. Two of the original teams are now in the American League (Boston and New York) while Louisville and Hartford are now minor-league baseball towns.

The first shut out in baseball was achieved on July 15, 1876 when St. Louis Brown Stocking pitcher George W. Bradley allowed no hits to the Hartford Dark Blues team. George Bradley pitched 16 shutouts in 1876, which still stands as the Major League record (currently tied with Pete Alexander who pitched the same number in 1916). Bradley’s nickname was “Grin,” which came from the constant smile he showed to batters as he pitched.

Labatt Park, a baseball stadium near the forks of the Thames River in central London, Ontario, Canada held its first game on May 3, 1877. It is the oldest continually operating baseball ground in the world.

Labatt Park in 2010 By Alethe

Fred Pfeffer, Tom Burns, and Ned Williamson each had three hits in the same inning of an 1883 major-league baseball game, and no other player had a three-hit inning until 1953.

The first baseball World Series was contested in 1884 when Providence NL defeated New York AA, 3 games to none.

Benjamin Harrison became the first president to attend a game while in office when he watched the Cincinnati Reds defeat the Washington Senators 7-4 in 11 innings on June 6, 1892.

The American and National Leagues agreed to peacefully coexist and organize a World Series between their champions in the early 20th century. Between October 1-13th 1903 the Boston Americans, representing the American League, defeated the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in eight games (best of nine) to win the first modern baseball World Series.

In 1904 Amanda Clement traveled to Hawarden, Iowa to watch her brother Hank pitch in a semi-professional game. The umpire for the amateur game taking place before Hank's did not show, and Hank suggested that Amanda, who had played baseball with her brothers and was knowledgeable about the game, serve as the umpire. In so doing, Clement became the first woman paid to umpire a baseball game. Her performance was so well received that she was hired to umpire further semi-professional games

On April 12, 1911 the Phillies shut out New York 2-0 in just 50 minutes. It was the shortest game in baseball history. 

The Americans customarily take a "stretch" after the seventh inning at their national game of baseball. It all started, however, when Herbert Hoover, who was attending a game, for reasons unknown or forgotten, had to leave before it was finished. It so happened that his departure coincided with the end of the seventh inning. Seeing their president leave, all spectators got up to pay him respect. Thus the "stretch" originated, which has been observed at that very juncture of every game ever since.

The first night game in Major League Baseball history was played in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 24, 1935. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field. The game drew 25,000 fans, who stood by as President Roosevelt symbolically switched on the recently installed lights from Washington, D.C. 

The first televised ball game was shown on August 26, 1939 between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World", one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history, occurred in 1951 when the New York Giants' Bobby Thomson hits a game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, to win the National League pennant after being down 14 games.

On May 16, 1970, Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hitting specialist Manny Mota hit the only batted ball in major league history to cause a fatality.  In the bottom of the third against the Giants at Dodger Stadium, Mota fouled one off of Gaylord Perry along the first base line. The ball struck 14-year-old Alan Fish in the left temple. Four days later, Fish died of an inoperable head injury. 

When Pittsburgh Pirates won 4 games to 3 over the Baltimore Orioles in 1971, game two was the first night game in World Series history.

The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted for 33 innings over eight hours and 25 minutes at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The game started on April 18, 1981 before being suspended at 4:00 the next morning and finally completed on the evening of Tuesday, June 23, the next time the Red Wings were in town.

The first night game in Major League Baseball histort was played at Crosley Field, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

The designated hitter rule, the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, was adopted by the American League on January 11, 1973. The rule allows teams to have one player, known as the designated hitter, to bat in place of the pitcher.

Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history, facing Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Luis Tiant in his first plate appearance on April 6, 1973. "Boomer" Blomberg was walked.

In 1981, Major League Baseball players begin a mid-season strike over the issue of free-agent compensation. It ended on June 30 of that year after 706 games were cancelled.

The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League played the longest ever professional baseball game. The game begun at McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket, Rhode Island on April 18, 1981. It lasted for 33 innings, with eleven hours and 25 minutes of playing time. 32 innings were played, before the game was suspended at 4:00 the next morning. The final 33rd inning was played June 23, 1981. Pawtucket won the game, 3–2.

The Mexican Wave was first used during an Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees playoff game on October 15, 1981, led by professional cheerleader, “Krazy” George Henderson. It spread nationally then went international thanks to the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, hence its name.

The Toronto Blue Jays are a major league baseball team based in Toronto, Ontario. In 1992, "the Jays" became the first team based outside of the US to win the World Series when Dave Winfield hit a two-run double in the 11th inning in Atlanta to beat the Braves four games to two. They repeated the feat in 1993.

Major League Baseball players went on strike on August 12, 1994. The labor strike resulted in the premature termination of the season, and the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904.

Interleague play begun in baseball in 1997, ending a 126-year tradition of separating the major leagues until the World Series. 

A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox set the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball on April 29, 2015. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.

Baseball has become popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly Japan. 


The distance between the pitcher's rubber and home plate in baseball is 60 feet, 6 inches.

The phrase "giving (or taking) of a rain check" originated in the custom of issuing spectators with a ticket for another game if the baseball match for which they had paid was interrupted or cancelled because of rain.

The average 3-hour baseball game contains only 18 minutes of game action.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

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