How Baseball was Invented
Baseball is a popular sport in the United States. In fact, it is often called our national pastime. Do you know how the game got started?
Baseball was invented in America in 1845. But even before that, as early as the 1600s, people in England played a similar game called rounders. The players on the other team tried to tag the runner by throwing the ball at him and hitting him with it! Ouch! This painful practice was called soaking the runner.
Later, in the 1700s, men in the American colonies played their own version of rounders. They called it town ball. Any young colonist who came to town for a meeting was allowed to play. Sometimes each team had as many as 25 players! And all 25 had to come to bat before the other team got a chance to hit!
As time went on, the popularity of town ball grew and grew . One man who loved to play the game was Alexander Cartwright. He used to play town ball every Sunday on a field in New York City.
One Sunday in 1845, Cartwright came to the game very excited. He held a piece of paper with some new rules he had made up. He had also drawn a field shaped like a diamond, and called his new game baseball.
How were Cartwright’s rules different from town ball? For one thing, batters would now use bats instead of paddles. Also, there would be four flat bases instead of posts. And each team could have only nine players.
One new rule that Cartwright made up was especially popular. From now on, fielders could not tag a runner by throwing the ball at him. Instead, the fielder had to throw the ball to another player, who would tag the runner or touch the base.
Cartwright and his friends formed the first official baseball team, called the Knickerbocker Baseball Club. The first organized game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey, on June 19, 1846. The Knickerbockers faced a team called the New York Nines, who won the game 23 to 1.
The baseball we play today still follows many of the rules Cartwright thought up in 1845. Of course, some rules have changed over the years. For example, in 1845, there were no balls or strikes. The batter simply told the pitcher what kind of pitch to throw. But now, it’s “three strikes and you’re out!”
The next time you play baseball, or even if you just watch, think of the games invent
or, Alexander Cartwright. He earned the title of “the father of organized baseball.”


Creative Classroom April/May 1990