Morosi: Baseball returning to its origins with London series

From Jon Morosi at on June 25, 2019, with mention of SABR member David Block:

In the coming days, you’re likely to be asked a variation of the following question: Why, exactly, are the Red Sox and Yankees playing in London?

Here’s one possible answer: Major League Baseball is bringing its preeminent rivalry to London because league officials believe the sport has a future there — along with a past.


In fact, baseball was born in England.

Let that sink in for a moment: America’s national pastime is a European immigrant.

So, it is not accurate to say that baseball evolved from the English game of rounders. (In fact, baseball is older than rounders.) The tale of Abner Doubleday creating the sport in Cooperstown, N.Y., isn’t true, either.

David Block, an American-born author and expert on baseball’s origins, discovered a 1749 newspaper account of the Prince of Wales and Earl of Middlesex playing baseball in Walton-on-Thames — less than 25 miles away from London Stadium, the site of this weekend’s series.

Block also has documented an image and description of early “Base-Ball” in the “A Little Pretty Pocket-book,” an English children’s book first published in 1744. In this schoolyard version of the game, a boy strikes a ball, runs to a “Post,” and arrives “Home with Joy.”

Consider the practical meaning of those dates: The printed records of baseball from 1744 and ’49 signify that the game existed — in Europe — more than a quarter-century before the United States of America gained independence. (Rounders, by the way, was not mentioned in printed records until the 1820s, Block says.)

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Originally published: June 25, 2019. Last Updated: June 25, 2019.