The question of the origins of baseball has long been the subject of debate and controversy. Early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "base ball,” "goal ball,” "round ball,” "fetch-catch,” "stool ball” and simply, "base.” In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves. Players also ran the bases in the opposite direction of today's game and could be put out by being hit with the ball.
Cooperstown, New York claimed to be the birthplace of baseball, but that has been thoroughly debunked. A Pittsfield, Massachusets municipal bylaw from 1791 banned "Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Football, Cat, Fives or any other game or games with balls" from being played within 80 yards of the town meeting house.
Meanwhile, in Hoboken, there’s a wooden sign hanging in the Reserve Room of Amanda’s Restaurant that states Hoboken is the birthplace of baseball. There’s also a plaque at Elysian Fields in Hoboken that refers to baseball’s origins. And it’s been documented that today’s game evolved directly from the rules set down by Alexander Cartwright for a game played in 1846 at Elysian Fields in Hoboken.
Want to know more? On Thursday, May 16, baseball historian John Zinn will visit Bordentown Library to present Baseball in New Jersey, 1855-1880 and explore the origins of baseball. Learn how New Jersey filled this important role in the game’s early growth period and then found new ways to be part of the game, roles that continue today. See you at the Old Ballgame!