Interestingly, America’s National Sport is not American in origin or in its early development.

A reference to a similar game called “rounders” appeared in England as early as 1744, and a derivation of this game, called “Bass- Ball” was mentioned there in 1749, with the first recorded game taking place in Surrey with the Prince of Wales participating. This early version of the game was then brought to Canada by English and Irish immigrants, and then to the United States. The first indication of popularity here was seen in the 1830s-40s, when amateur baseball clubs sprang up in eastern cities.

However, the first official baseball game with a documented scorecard took place not in the U.S but in Canada in 1838, and, after certain adjustments by New York City clubs, the basis for the baseball we know today was established. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright produced a code of baseball rules, known as the Knickerbocker rules, and by the mid-1850s, journalists were referring to it as the “national game”.

The National League was founded in 1876, and the American League in1901. And, the Boston Americans (American League) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates (National League) in the first World Series in 1903.

In 1919, motivated by contempt for a particularly stingy owner (Charles Comisky), members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw that year’s World Series, and as a result of that infamous “Black Sox Scandal”, the office of the Commissioner of Baseball was created with Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first to hold the position.

In those first decades of the 20 th Century, only white players appeared on rosters of either league. As a result, Black players created their own Negro League with the Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays, and Birmingham Black Barons being prominent teams .

The first crack in that unwritten rule segregating black and white players was made in 1947 when Branch Rickey’s Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson and, in the American League, the Cleveland Indians put Larry Doby under contract. This, opening up the door of opportunity and truly justifying baseball as “America’s Game”.

The DePace Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of Negro League artifacts and includes full size bronze statues of some of those great Negro League players, as well as uniforms, bats, and gloves of “diamond” greats as well as incredible artifacts tracing the history and heroes of our national sport.

DePace Sports Museum
475 Hurffville - Cross Keys Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
Museum Hours : By Appointment Only.
Call - 856-270-2573
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