1755 | SHERE, ENGLAND – The earliest known reference to “base ball” was made on this date in 1755.
That was not a misprint – 1755.
And it was made in England, not America. The entry was made by William Bray, a successful lawyer and meticulous recorder of daily life in County Shere outside London. Here’s what he wrote some 260 years ago :
“Went to stoke church this morn. After dinner went to Miss Jeal’s to play at base ball with her, the three Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr, Chandler, Mr. Ford, Mr. Parsons. Drank tea and stayed til 8.”
It was a startling discovery considering, while influenced by British games like “Rounders,” “Town Ball,” and “Cricket,” baseball was thought to be a purely American invention. If that was the case, what’s it doing in the diary of a Brit in the 18th Century?
John Thorn is the Official Biographer for Major League Baseball
David Block, baseball historian, author of “Baseball Before We Knew it: A Search For the Roots of the Game”
Origins of Baseball