The Birth of Baseball Baseball. The American Pastime. A true love of mine and of many Americans. The game's objective is to outscore your opponent by having more baserunners come across the final of four bases, called home plate. It's ironic in a way. The more these athletes 'go home,' the more successful they are.

There is a reward in a 'walk' and batters can be among the game's greats by failing seven out of 10 times. Although baseball is usually traced to the mid-19 th century, games involving bats and balls started long before that. In fact, the first recorded 'batting contests' began more than 5, 000 years ago when Egyptian priests engaged in mock combat with bats. Balls which sometimes symbolized the sun and other deities, eventually found their way into the game. These games were gradually brought to Europe and eventually America.

When these games reached England, they became classified as 'stool ball.' The 'pitcher' attempted to hit an upturned stool with a ball before a 'batter' could bat it away with a 'stick.' Legend has it that when this game moved out of the churchyard and into the countryside, more 'stools' or 'bases' were added. These bases had to be circled after the ball was struck. This led to the creation of English game 'rounders,' and a rule was added. A base runner could be put 'out' by being struck with a thrown ball. Imagine that ruled had stayed. You'd have Roger Clemens firing fastballs at rookie infielders, who would run for their lives.

Posts called 'goals' or 'bases' were driven into the ground. The game was called 'goal ball' or 'base ball' as early as 1700. The first known published mention of the term 'base ball' came in a 1744 book, 'A Pretty Little Pocket Book,' published in London in 1744. The book included a rhyming description of the game and a picture captioned 'Base-Ball.' This book was re-published in the U. S. several times between 1762 and 1787..