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Origins of Baseball


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ABC7 News

Posted on: Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Pittsfield, Massachusetts, officials and historians have released a 213-year-old document today that they believe is the earliest written reference to baseball.


The evidence comes from a 1791 bylaw that aims to protect the windows in Pittsfield's new meeting house by barring anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the building.


Abner Doubleday is said to have written the rules for the game in 1839 at Cooperstown, New York, nearly four decades after the Pittsfield document was published.


A librarian found the actual document in a vault at the Berkshire Athenaeum library, and its age was authenticated by reseachers at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Baseball historian John Thorn says it's clear that not only was baseball played in Massachusetts in 1791, but it was rampant.


Baseball Hall of Fame spokesman Jeff Idelson says there's no way of pinpointing where the sport originated.

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