Where does the word baseball come from?

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.  

British baseball?

The word baseball comes from England - the country that famously doesn't play the modern game of the same name.
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'.

Why did cricket not establish itself in America?

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. The 2016 season reached an 'epic conclusion' 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?

English Language 100 FAQ Teaching Pack  only £1.99