Having Fun, American Style: Baseball and U.S. History

Here's an interesting tidbit from U.S. history: Ever since the Mayflower landed, Americans had been playing versions of a game known variously as "one old cat," "bittle-battle," "stick ball," "town ball," and "rounders."

But it's possible that the iteration of the game that came to be known as "base-ball" was born on the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey, on June 19, 1846. It was there that the New York Knickerbockers club squared off against a team called the New York Nine. They played under rules — nine-member teams, a diamond-shaped infield — devised by Alexander Cartwright, a New York bank teller and member of the Knicks' team.

Cartwright's rules caught on, and eventually they evolved as the basis for what became our national pastime. But making up the rules didn't prove of much help to Cartwright's team that fateful day in 1846. It seems some of the Knicks' best players refused to go all the way from Manhattan to Hoboken. As a result, the Knickerbockers lost 23–1.

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