24 Jan The Amazing History of American Baseball
Of all the American past times, sports that are definitively American have garnered the attention of adoring fans for over 200 years. One of the biggest sports that has taken the world by storm has been baseball. This notorious American iconic sport has been a part of the country since before the 19th century.
Birth of an American Pastime and Early History of The Sport
In fact, the first mention of the sport in any formal manner was an ordinance out of Pittsfield Massachusetts in 1791 that banned playing the sport within 80 yards of the town meeting house. There was some controversy in the beginning roots of the sport defining whether it was a sport created in America which was later declared officially in the early 1900’s. The matter seemed to have been settled by a commission that determined the official rules of the game as we know it today were created by Abner Doubleday and American Civil War Hero.
While Doubleday was born in 1819 nearly 20 years after the sport was first noted in Pittsfield town records, the sporting rules and outline of the game was said to have been created by him. The history of it is attributed to a game first played in Cooperstown, New York in 1839 with Abner Doubleday creating most of the “rules of the game” as we know them today. It is said the game that was noted in Massachusetts in 1791 allowed for no bases and people could chase people off into the woods long beyond the general outline of the outfield. This practice made the game almost more about tag than home runs and scoring.
Playing the Game in the Civil War
In addition to the sport, Abner Doubleday was also a noted Civil War hero who reached the ranking of Colonel and was involved in fending off Confederate soldiers in Gettysburg whose numbers far outnumbered his own for hours. As a way to inspire and keep the spirit up of his troops, he is said to have given out bats and balls to his soldiers encouraging them to play the sport on their off time to keep up morale when not in combat.
The Sport Now Draws Millions of Fans Annually
Today, America has 30 national baseball teams with millions of fans loyal to almost every team. The sport boasts an annual viewership of the World Series of between 14 and 26 million Americans. The love and passion for the game has evolved over the years into one of America’s greatest pastimes.
Cooperstown Hall of Fame and Museum
Cooperstown, New York, the site of the first “official” game as we know it was played in a cow field with Abner having created the rules of play for that game. The town has become the home of the sport since the early 1900’s even though there has been great controversy over whether Doubleday was it’s actual creator. But by 1939, the National Hall of Fame and Museum for the sport was built in Cooperstown in honor of Doubleday and it has been the site of all the honors and inductions for the sport ever since.
The first group of inductees into the Hall of Fame included: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. Each year over 300,000 tourists make the journey to Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. A new addition was added to the library and even with the expansion visitors to Cooperstown see only a fraction of its total of over 40,000 artifacts and over 3 million library items that include memorabilia such as: newspaper clippings and photos. Additionally, Cooperstown has the largest most comprehensive collection of 140,000 baseball cards.