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The Bases are Loaded with History- by Jeff Reed 
Neither spitting nor swearing were tolerated, nor could the thrower - as the pitcher was known - throw a strike. If a hit was caught on its first bounce, the striker - as the batter was known - was called out. And you didn't dare think about stealing home.

These are but a few of the differences between the game of baseball of today and when "base ball" first started in the mid-1800s, brought to life by the Ohio Village Muffins and the Diamonds Ladies Base Ball Club. Organized by the Ohio Historical Society (OHS). both teams play "base ball" as it was intended and without the benefit of gloves, which hadn't yet been invented.

The two teams will play a number of "matches" and special events around the state this month and at Ohio Village in Columbus, with the Muffins continuing their games through early November. Both teams also will play host to the 12th annual Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival during Labor Day weekend. They'll welcome 18 gentlemen's and two ladies' teams to Ohio Village for the country's largest gathering of vintage base ball clubs, representing eras from 1845 to 1924.

"The Muffins were the country's first vintage base ball team, formed in 1981 to help re-create everyday life in a typical 1860s Ohio village, which ties right in with Ohio's Bicentennial celebration," said Doug Smith, team manager of both OHS teams, who works in the OHS education department. "We've also helped inspire nearly 50 other vintage teams around the country and in Canada."

The Muffins' name playfully salutes the early days of the game when a "muffin" was a player who fumbled the ball while trying to catch it. They wear a scarlet bow tie, tall striped cap and a flowing white, shield-front shirt bearing a crim- son "M," a uniform patterned after an 1866 Currier and Ives print called "The American National Game."

Smith helped organize the Diamonds Ladies in 1994 to portray an 1860s women's college team. Like the women they depict, they play their matches in full-length, 19th-century street clothes.

Base ball teams like the Muffins and the Diamonds Ladies had their roots in several ball-and-stick games of the 1830s, especially the British game of rounders and the American game of townball. In 1845, a group of New Yorkers founded the Knickerbockers Base Ball Club and wrote the first set of rules. Other base ball clubs quickly followed and devised their own codes. Soon the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed, which standardized the game.

"At first, base ball was a game for the wealthy uppercrust, but it swiftly spread up and down the social ladder," Smith said. "Anyone could play the game, so a whole community could turn out for a picnic and a match, and they all could defend their honor against a rival community. While a lot has changed, it's still the same fun game at heart. Above all, though, the genteel men and women who originally played the game of base ball in the mid-1800s were expected to be nice to each other." 

(country living 2003)

The Origin of Baseball
The first recorded rules of Baseball were written 1845 in Manhattan. A group of young men led by Alexander Cartwright, calling themselves the 'Knickerbockers' wrote down the rules of a game that they were playing. These rules were the basis of baseball and many of the rules are still used. Cartwright truly was the father of baseball.

In the mid-1800s, this game, called 'townball' 'base' or 'baseball' became more and more popular. In 1857, a group of 25 Northeastern clubs sent delegates and standardized the rules. In 1858, they formed the first baseball league, the 'National Association of Base Ball Players'. The league started giving games to the public and charged an admission.

During the American Civil War, soldiers from the Northeast, where baseball was flourishing, spread the game all over the country. After the war ended, baseball had more than 100 clubs.

In 1869, the world's first professional baseball team formed. All previous players were amatuer and unpaid. The Cincinnati Red Stockings recruited the best players and no one beat the Red Stockings that year.