Maybe they were playing ‘baseball’ back in 1301? –

It is something well beyond an open secret that Abner Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball, contrary to what American mythos insists. We may never fully understand the somewhat murky origins of the game (though this excellent book by the even more excellent John Thorn achieves the finest scholarship on the matter), but we know the official lore is incorrect.

Some form of stick-and-ball has been played at least since ancient Egyptians were indulging in tilts of “seker-hemat” around 2,500 B.C. or so, and baseball probably traces its most direct inspiration from English games that long predate Mr. Doubleday. All of that makes sense, since picking up a club and hitting something with it taps into some of our most primal urges.

But, hey, here’s this! What follows is a page from the Calendar of the Ghistelles Hours, which dates back 1301 or so and comes to us from a long-ago monastery in what’s now Belgium …

(Image: Pitchers & Poets)

Baseball or something like it! Or maybe it’s a soft-toss session, given the angles involved. In either case, the batsman appears to be rolling his wrists a bit too soon, so a harmless grounder to short is likely forthcoming.

This particular baseball-ish artifact was discovered in 1999, and it promptly became the lastest bit of history to put the lie to the Doubleday myth.

1301! It was a good year! Yes, there was war, malady, and pestilence, but there was also baseball of a kind!

To bring it full circle, one day a giant, cudgel-shaped asteriod will use the earth as its baseball and smite a ringing double into the sun. Baseball sustained us; baseball shall be our finisher.


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