A Harvard graduate student combing archives uncovered new clues in the search for the origin of baseball in an 1845 newspaper sports story and box score.
Abner Doubleday's "invention" of baseball in a Cooperstown, N.Y., cow pasture has been debunked as a popular myth. The city of Hoboken, N.J., then claimed the first game was played there in 1846.The story and primitive box score appeared in a copy of The New York Morning News and recount a game played Oct. 21, 1845, between the "New York Ball club" and a team from Brooklyn, The New York Times reported in its Thursday's editions.
The find by Edward L. Widmer, a Harvard doctoral candidate researching his dissertation at the New York Historical Society, indicates baseball had been in existence for some time when the story was written.
The newspaper account began: "A friendly match of the time-honored game of Base was played yesterday . . ."
New York won 24-4, aided by a grand slam, or in the vocabulary of the time, "four aces" off a single hit. The newspaper account went on to say two new Brooklyn teams had formed recently.After it was proved that Doubleday did not create baseball, historians credited Alexander Cartwright, a New York bank clerk said to have drawn up the rules and organized the first game in 1846 for the Knickerbocker "Base Ball Club" at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken.
The game reported in the Morning News also was played at Elysian Fields, and Widmer found another clipping recounting a rematch Oct. 24, 1845, that was played in Brooklyn.
The find indicates that "New York City is the cradle of baseball," said David Q. Voigt, a baseball historian and professor at Albright College in Reading, Pa.
"Baseball was a city game, not a rural or farm game," he said, adding that the find supports his theory that baseball developed in stages.