Bourgo: Baseball in Korea goes back further than you think

From SABR member Patrick Bourgo at the Korea Times on March 29, 2016:

While the earliest reference to baseball being played in Korea is thought to be in a newspaper from 1896, an even earlier mention can be found in the personal diary of a Seoul resident from 1894.

Similar to the Doubleday myth in America, many still believe that baseball was introduced to Korea in 1905 by an American missionary with the YMCA named Philip L. Gillett. However, while Gillett did promote the game among Korean youth, there are numerous records of baseball being played in Korea far earlier than 1905.

The early days of baseball in Korea go back to the late 19th century, when Korea was still the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). Despite being referred to by some as the “hermit kingdom,” by the 1890s there was a flourishing foreign community in Korea, made up of foreign legations, businessmen and their families, missionaries, foreign experts and government advisors. There were also American military personnel living in the country and stationed offshore.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 29, 2016. Last Updated: March 29, 2016.