Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mysteries of History: Play Ball: New Jersey's Role in Baseball

Mysteries of History
Play Ball: New Jersey's Role in Baseball
Written by Scott M. Cooper

People around the globe have enjoyed the American pastime known as baseball for many years. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Derrick Jeter have all stepped up to the plate, swung a wooden Louisville Slugger, and made contact with a leather-covered ball. The sound created from contact is one that no one will ever forget, no matter his or her age. However, before all the hype and superstars produced through the game, when did it all begin?

To answer that question, we have to adjust the hands of time to February 2, 1876. This date marks the National League of Professional Baseball Club’s birth in New York. When this league was formed, there were eight teams:  Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York (not the Yankees), Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Although this event is a memorable one for the history of the sport, it still does not answer the question.

Let us move the hands of time back thirty more years. On June 19, 1846, in the small town of Hoboken, New Jersey, the first game of organized baseball was played. Alexander Cartwright, not Abner Doubleday as history states, established the rules for this game and some of those rules still apply today. This game had no set innings and the two teams played until it was so dark that they could not see each other. The outcome of that first game was the New York Nine beat the Knickers of the New Jersey Knickerbockers, 23-1.

Next time that you step up to the plate, watch the game on television or sit in a seat at the ballpark, you can think back to when you were little and continue to dream about how you would have saved the World Series:
“...Down by two runs, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. I pick up my Louisville Slugger, take a couple of practice swings, and then step into the batter’s box. I stare at the pitcher, poised with my bat, and try to catch a signal from him, which would indicate his next pitch. He winds up, fires one down the center, strike one! I move the bat around, adjust my grip, and he fires another down the center, strike two! My heart starts to pump harder. Sweat forms on my brow, but I do not back down.
I take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and watch his right arm. This is the last game of the World Series, two outs, and only one strike left. I cannot let my team down. The wind up, the pitch...I watch the white leather covered ball sail towards me, and contact is made, crack, a sound heard around the world. As I stood at the plate and watched the little white ball soar into the air, it become smaller and smaller. It’s going...It’s going...It’s...”
You know the rest of the story!

"Baseball Match at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken." Harper's Weekly, October 15, 1859. 

About the Author
Scott M. Cooper, the author of "Mysteries of History," is a Massachusetts native, now living in Florida. Cooper, a freelance writer, is the owner of The Elegant Quill, which offers ghost writing, fiction, non-fiction, editing, and proofreading services. He may be contacted at smcooper5289@gmail.com.


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