Recently I started reading a very interesting comic about high school baseball. I found that baseball shares so many similarities with Cricket. So I tried to look for some information regarding the origins of both the games. I found that both games originated in England. But there is no information about which game was invented first. Is there any source to tell which game was invented first and when? The bigger question why baseball became so popular in USA and not cricket. Also, if at all baseball was invented in England, why was it never promoted by English in their colonies (like the way they promoted cricket)?
I know this is an old question, but I feel the need to comment for those who might find this.
First, there is a really good book on the origins of baseball -- Baseball Before We Knew It, by David Block. If you have an interest in the topic I highly recommend it.
It is not so much that one of the two games was invented first, but more likely that they both developed from the same source -- which, Block argues pretty persuasively, was not at all rounders, but probably a folk game such as stool ball (which also made it to America -- we know it was played at Plymouth in the 17th Century by some non-Puritans who got in some trouble for it!).
As that indicates, the English brought their games with them. I don't think it's a matter of "promoting" one game or the other... sometimes something will catch on and others won't. In the case of baseball, after a while there was clearly a certain patriotic interest in supporting a game thought to be "home-grown." But cricket was very popular in the US at times as well. The Wikipedia page about the history of United States Cricket suggests that baseball picked up some popularity during the Civil War because it did not require the same kind of carefully-prepared pitch as cricket.
I wouldn't agree that "the game of baseball (similar to the one we know) would not have existed during the colonial times and would not have been promoted anyway," but perhaps this is just a semantic quibble. Baseball existed in colonial times, as we can see from the 1744 reference in A Little Pretty Pocket Book, which was published in both England and, a few years later, in America. It didn't have the Knickerbocker rules yet, but I think it's fair to call it baseball.
One more thing -- the Protoball Chronology is a fascinating work in progress collecting historical references to "safe haven" ball games including cricket, baseball, stool ball, etc. Anyone curious about the origins of these games should check it out.
The games of cricket and baseball are similar and can be looked at in an evolving type of way. Games similar to cricket were developed and the sport progressed as the rules and concepts changed. Over the course of hundreds of years the sport of baseball was created. To be correct Cricket may have not have even come first. See this reference to Rounders. There were other English games that went by similar rules to cricket and rounders. These games had many different names and variants.
From Origins of Baseball
Cricket can be dated back to 1550 but games very similar to cricket had been developed in the 13th century.
The following is excluding the myth that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball:
Quoted from the baseball wikipedia page:
Due to the fact that the first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright the game of baseball (similar to the one we know) would not have existed during the colonial times and would not have been promoted anyway.
Adoption of Cricket in America
The first recorded American Cricket match was in 1751 in New York and was popular among colonists before that time. However the Revolution came around and had an impact on all things British. From the timeline on the above linked page.
The following statement is my own conclusion and should be regarded as such:
It would seem that America adopted baseball instead of cricket simply due to the fact that cricket was not established a "professional sport". The game continued to evolve and the many variants ended up leading to the game of baseball. By the time the evolution of the game caught up with the need/want of a professional sport baseball had the upper hand.
EDIT: Who gets credit for baseball
Also from the origins of baseball Link
Congress has credited Alexander Cartwright (An American) as the inventor of baseball and he is honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But there are plenty of myths (See the Abner Doubleday Entry, as well as this quote)
-From the origins of baseball page
All in all it seems that due to the lack of evidence and the many many versions of this game it is very difficult to come to a solid conclusion.
Short Answer: Cricket was surprisingly popular in the United States through the entire 19th century. However, baseball was backed and promoted by dynamic marketers like A.G. Spalding. Baseball came to be associated with all-American manly athleticism, while cricket came to be associated with snobbish aristocrats with English pretensions.
Sociologists Jason Kaufman and Orlando Patterson have an article that answers this exact question, so I'll let them explain.
Baseball and cricket were both very popular in the 19th century
Cricket was popular in the US until well after the Civil War. The world's first official international cricket match took place between American and Canadian teams in 1844.
The wealthy began to value Cricket for its English pedigree
Savvy marketers promoted baseball
However much Americans enjoyed playing cricket, the sport never developed the kind of infrastructure that leads to a mass fan base: frequent matches with large crowds and intense rivalries. Baseball, however
Savvy marketers disparaged cricket as effeminate
Spalding was pretty scathing in his depiction of cricketers. He wrote in 1911:
A baseball player, on the other hand, is manly:
And just in case Spalding was too subtle above, he repeats one more time that America:England::Manly:Effeminate.
The end result? "By the eve of the First World War very few were still alive who could recall the days when cricket had a chance to become America’s national pastime.”