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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Diary of John Rhea Smith, Nassau Hall, College of New Jersey. Princeton, 1786. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (004.00.00)
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Earliest Mention of Baseball

The earliest known handwritten mention of baseball in America comes from a student’s diary entry for Wednesday, March 22, 1786: “A fine day play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the Ball.” Smith’s use of “baste” appears to be a common corruption of “base” rather than a reference to a different game. The following year, the college faculty determined that baseball was “unbecoming” and dangerous, and banned it from campus.

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