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Base Ball Discovered

by Matt Smith

MLB.com has produced a new documentary exploring baseball’s roots that will be of particular interest to British fans.  Base Ball Discovered provides:

“an exploration into the many generational theories about the beginnings of baseball both stateside and across the ocean, to learn firsthand about our national pastime’s ancestors: England’s bat-and-ball games. The film will bring fans of all ages closer to ‘home’ through a detailed look at the game’s roots… and even provide an unexpected and historical discovery along the way”.

The documentary was first broadcast on the MLB Network on Sunday.  Although the film is not available in full online, there is an excellent mini-site that offers excerpts and bonus clips alongside general information about the project.  It’s fascinating to see how English bat-and-ball games may have influenced the sport enjoyed by millions around the world today. 

There is no news yet as to whether the full documentary will eventually find a home online or if it will be broadcast anywhere in the UK.  No doubt I’m not alone in hoping that it is made available to us in the future.  If we hear any news, we will let you know.

Meanwhile, you may be interested in a blog post I have written about the documentary on the blogging network at MLB.com.

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Joe Cooter May 19, 2009 - 11:08 am

I happened to catch the last quarter of the Documentary the other day when I got back from going to my local Barns and Noble Book Store. What I say impressed. From What I saw, Stoolball looks a lot like cricket and bat and trap is entirely differant. But it was a wonderful documentary. Sadly, I missed the interview with ED Smith.

Even after the Game came over here to the states, British Subject continued to have an influence on the game. In fact Atlanta braves were founded the Brothers Wright, whose father was a cricketer. Henry Chadwick, who was responsible for writing many of the games rules, grew up near Sommerset. They showed a bunch of hilight at the end of the documentary and included Bobby Thompson’s homerun against the Dodgers. Thompson was born in Glasgow.

Matt Smith May 19, 2009 - 6:15 pm

Just logged on to MLB.com and saw that they are streaming the documentary live NOW! Late notice I’m afraid.

Matt Smith May 19, 2009 - 6:23 pm

Note that the article states:

“The documentary premiered on MLB Network on Sunday. Following Tuesday’s simulcast, it is scheduled to repeat on May 21, 22 and 24.”

Might be worth checking whether it will be simulcast on MLB.com again on those days.

Joe Cooter May 20, 2009 - 12:10 pm

I saw the documentary in full. I have to say, it was good. I found myself gaining a new respect not only for baseball but for the other games from which it was decended from.

Here’s how I think Baseball and Rounders are decended from Cricket and mind you this is just a theory. Somewhere along the way somebody decided to marry Stool Ball with Cricket and the results were the twin games of Rounders and Baseball, who are basically twins so to speak. As Ed Smith said clearly in BASEBALL DISCOVERED, the relationship between baseball and Cricket is like that of a parents and a child. Neither one of them really understand one another. But that doesn’t mean that they are not related or their isn’t a level of respect between the two.

Matt Smith May 20, 2009 - 6:27 pm

Thanks for passing on your thoughts Joe. Glad you enjoyed it. I was only able to catch a bit of the film, but what I saw was very interesting.

Joe Cooter May 20, 2009 - 7:32 pm

Matt your very Welcome,

Here’s one thing about the Film that puzzled me thought, they Mentioned that Doubleday was well know amongst the American public for his role in the Battle of Gettysburg during the Cival War. Funny thing, I’ve studied the Civil War in School and have visited Gettysburg twice, I’ve even visited the Eisenhower Estate, where Ike would once discussed the Battle of Gettysburg with Field Marshal Montgomery. I have never heard aboubt the role General Alexander Doubleday played in the battle. Other than that, I’m very familiar with the battle.

ERIC ANDERSON September 22, 2009 - 7:00 pm

Baseball was played in Britain in the 1700’s and was taken by British migrants to America in that century.There are many references to it.However it was mainly an informal children’s game,’Let’s play baseball’ became ‘Let’s play rounders’ i.e. run round the bases.So by the early 1800’s the game had changed it’s name in Britain to rounders![Which caused a lot of confusion].Rounders is just mini-baseball.The Americans took the game and adapted it for adults.


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