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The History of Baseball
The notion Abner Doubleday is the beginning of the history of baseball is as likely as the Oakland Athletics winning the American League West before 2030. Unless we're hanging our hats on Abner Graves's eyewitness account (the mining engineer) or findings from the Mills Commission's almost 3 year investigation. It depends on if you're looking for the game's inception or when it became the game we know and love today.
Baseball's Earliest Printed Reference in 1744
According to the MLB's Official Baseball Historian; John Thorn, there is an actual citation of baseball dating back to 1735 in America. Google was never able to locate this citation, but by 1744, English publisher and pioneer of children's books; John Newbery, provided the first printed book about base-ball called; A Pretty Little Pocket-Book. The illustrations show his rhyming reference of "Base-Ball" was actually about the game of Rounders. A game dating back to the Henry VIII era, Rounders has similar architecture to the game of baseball.
Baseball's First Known Newspaper Reference in 1749
Five years after Newbery's reference to base-ball (1749), Frederick, Prince of Wales played in the first recorded game against Charles Sackville, Earl of Middlesex in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. However, the Whitehall Evening Post referenced the game as Bass-Ball.
Garden Shed Contents Acknowledge Base Ball in 1755
On March 31, 1755, a young William Bray writes in his diary about playing base ball. Bray, eventually a county historian in Surrey, chronicled most of his life through several diaries. The one found by Tricia St. John Barry was the only one where he referenced base ball. Barry actually had the diary given to her by a neighbor 15-20 years prior, but didn't realize its significance until Jane Austin's reference in Northanger Abbey, a novel written around 1797-1798, was considered the first reference at the time.
Little Pretty Pocket-Book is Reprinted/Revised in 1762 America
The first real infusion of baseball in Colonial America occurred in 1762. The Little Pretty Pocket-Book was reprinted and brought forth a new enjoyment for youngsters around the country. By the American Revolutionary War, several soldiers had already played some version of the game. In fact, a few of George Washington's soldiers played a similar game called; Playing at Base, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. This was the Continental Army's main encampment from December 1777 to June 1778.