The earliest reference to baseball comes in a diary entry of a Surrey solicitor, William Bray.
Mr Bray refers to playing 'base-ball' with his friends.
So the word originates in one of the leafiest counties in England - the country that famously doesn't play baseball. But, as Scyld Berry points out, the bigger claim, that America's summer sport descends from the English game rounders, does not 'get to first base'.
Another common misapprehension is that cricket was always unpopular in the USA. According to this view, Americans could never warm to a game played over five days and often ending in a draw.
But cricket 'was stronger in America than in Australia until the 1860s – stronger than anywhere else outside England'.
Baseball has grown into one of America's greatest cultural traditions. Witness the ecstatic celebrations when the Chicago Cubs finally lifted 'the curse of the Billy Goat'
More on the relationship between the rival summer games of 'two countries divided by a single language' here.
What is 'inside baseball'?
What is a curved ball?
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