Did America's Pastime Originate In England?

New evidence suggests the first recorded game of baseball took place in Surrey in 1749. Guest host Linda Wertheimer has the details.

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(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME AND CROWD CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: And a high shot down the right side. That's got some carry. And a diving attempt and a catch by Bowe(ph). Oh, my goodness.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Baseball is American as apple pie, Walt Whitman and a future king of Great Britain. A future king of what?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Turns out that the game that has long been known as America's pastime may have originated in England long before there were White Sox, Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers taking the field.

Baseball historian David Block discovered that the first recorded game of baseball took place in Surrey in England from a report in the Whitehall Evening post dated September 19th, 1749.

The report read...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Reading) On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball, at Walton in Surrey; notwithstanding the weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several hours.

WERTHEIMER: The game back then was different from the sport we know and love, with the batter using just his hand to hit the ball. Which just goes to show that Britain did invent a lot of things, but sometimes others made them better.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" PLAYED BY JIMI HENDRIX)

WERTHEIMER: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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