The rules of baseball

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

The Cambridge Companion to Baseball


The roots of American baseball and the origins of the rules by which it is played remain elusive. For most of the twentieth century, casual fans were often content to accept as fact the legendary tale that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in the village of Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. (That tale had romantic appeal because of Doubleday's later service as a Civil War general.) More serious students embraced the alternative version sportswriter Henry Chadwick first advanced in 1860: that baseball derived from rounders, a game Chadwick saw as a youth in England. Late in the twentieth century, well after scholars had discredited the Doubleday myth while leaving Chadwick's explanation intact, new research not only refuted Chadwick's rounders thesis but also presented persuasive evidence about how baseball might have begun and when its rules might first have been set in type.



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