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Yankeefan51 07-24-2010 03:53 AM

O/T Cricket and Baseball-The Economist
Cricket and baseball
Common ground
Comparing cricket with baseball is a good way to start a spat
Jul 22nd 2010

This just doesn’t feel right to me
BRITAIN and America are divided, not just by a common language, but also by their passion for summer ball games. The English dismiss baseball as a barbarous mutant form of rounders, a kids’ game; Americans regard cricket as a crazed English joke. Matthew Engel, a cricket writer, notes that “It is less contentious to write about religion or politics than the origins of these two games.”

Early in the 20th century Albert Spalding, an American sporting-goods manufacturer, insisted that baseball had been invented in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839 by a young soldier called Abner Doubleday who would be promoted to major-general during the American civil war. Baseball’s Hall of Fame was opened in Cooperstown when a misshapen leather ball found in the attic of a house near the town in 1934 was heralded as the ball originally used by Doubleday. This was always an unlikely tale, and Spalding’s papers, which are now housed in Cooperstown, expose his claims as a fabrication.

The true origins of both games are to be found in “Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect”, a new exhibition for which the curator, Beth Hise, has written an exemplary catalogue. This cornucopia of bats and balls, uniforms (belonging to England’s Andrew Flintoff and the Yankees’ Derek Jeter), photographs and memorabilia has opened at the Marylebone Cricket Club’s museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London and will move on to the Hall of Fame.

It is based on the revisionist notion that the two games have much in common. Both are rooted in English folk traditions, and each is based on a contest between the pitcher and the batter in baseball and the bowler and the batsman in cricket. Referees are called umpires in both. “I see them as blood brothers, separated at birth but genetically linked,” writes Mr Engel in the catalogue’s introduction.

The first handwritten reference to baseball is to be found in a copy of a diary written in Shere, Surrey, on Easter Monday in 1755: “After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale’s to play at Base Ball…” (The original diary turned up after the exhibition opened.) Four years earlier, a team of London cricketers had already played a cricket team from New York, for a considerable wager, and between 1840 and 1855 cricket was America’s leading ball game. The first international cricket match was played between the United States and Canada in 1844. (Canada won.)

Baseball became pre-eminent during and after the civil war. Ms Hise suggests that the key to popularising it was the abolition of the rule that a fielder could eliminate a batter by catching the ball after one bounce. To catch the ball on the fly was considered more “manly” and “scientific”, making baseball less a game for women and children. The system of box scoring was invented by an Englishman named Henry Chadwick, and many of the first professional players were from immigrant English families who could play both cricket and baseball.

By 1900, though, the two games had become completely distinct. When Babe Ruth (pictured) and Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest of all batters and batsmen, were introduced in 1932, it was not a meeting of minds: “You mean to tell me you don’t have to run when you hit the ball?” said Ruth, who was known as the Sultan of Swat.

In recent decades baseball has been more confident about the way it is organised than cricket, which experiments with new forms of the game intended to popularise it, by speeding it up. In the traditional format, games last four or five days and can end in a draw. Twenty20 is the latest of these innovations. The two teams each bat for 20 six-ball overs and the emphasis is on heavy-hitting. This form of the game has become very popular in the subcontinent, where the Indian Premier League is a major television spectacle, paying cricketers unheard-of sums to play in a short period in the spring. The attraction of Twenty20 is that games take about three hours to complete and there is no such thing as a draw. In fact, Twenty20 is not unlike baseball. Indeed, it is perfectly plausible that cricketers and baseball players will become ambidextrous again, swinging between the two games, as they sometimes did in the 19th century.

“Swinging Away”: How Cricket and Baseball Connect” is at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, until December 2010 and then at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY, from April to November 2011.

Books and Arts

4815162342 07-24-2010 06:18 AM

Nice article Bruce. Thanks for posting.

orator1 07-25-2010 02:54 PM

2 Attachment(s)
"This cornucopia of bats and balls, uniforms, photographs and memorabilia has opened at the Marylebone Cricket Club’s museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London and will move on to the Hall of Fame."

I wonder if this exhibit will include any memorabilia or woodcut images from the Americans' 1874 baseball tour of England and Ireland? Supposedly there were many articles in London newspapers about the Americans' visit.

On August 3rd, 4th, and 6th 1874 the Boston and Athletic teams played two games against each other at Lord's Cricket Grounds in London. A crowd of 5000 spectators watched. The Americans also beat the Marylebone cricketers in a cricket game by a score of 107 to 105. The Americans were permitted 18 men and the Marylebone cricketers were allowed 12, since the Americans were supposed to know little or nothing about cricket.

In the evening the players were given a banquet by the members of the Marylebone Cricket Club. They were treated to "thick and clear turtle soup" and "ham and tongue", among other delicacies.

Attached is the September 5th 1874 Harper's Weekly woodcut depicting the Red Stockings and the Athletics during a game.
The caption reads:

During these games Boston flew their National Association Pennant, which can be seen in the upper left corner of the woodcut.

While in London, Boston's James O'Rourke won a long distance throwing contest with a throw of 119 yards (357 feet). In 1910 - thirty six years later - O'Rourke showed the souvenir cricket ball to his friend Tim Murnane during an interview. He had kept it all those years.

Paul C.

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