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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)?

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This is in-topic here, but in case you receive no answer, there's also a Sports Stack Exchange now. –  Lohoris Feb 17 '12 at 10:08
    
Thanks for the information. –  kartshan Feb 17 '12 at 10:10
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Baseball in england is from a game called rounders - it's similar to softball and is normally played in English schools by girls or kids too young for cricket. So baseball is looked down on as a little kids game. –  none Feb 18 '12 at 21:09

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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.

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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

Since they were folk games, the early games had no official, documented rules, and they tended to change over time. To the extent that there were rules, they were generally simple and were not written down. There were many local variations, and varied names.

Cricket

Cricket can be dated back to 1550 but games very similar to cricket had been developed in the 13th century.

Baseball

The following is excluding the myth that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball:

Quoted from the baseball wikipedia page:

The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a rhymed description of "base-ball" and a woodcut that shows a field set-up somewhat similar to the modern game—though in a triangular rather than diamond configuration, and with posts instead of ground-level bases. William Bray, an English lawyer, recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, Surrey

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

Source (also included a great timeline of colonial cricket

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.

1800: By the time the century drew to a close, cricket’s popularity was soaring. The Britishness of the game was a problem and the American Revolution had an impact on cricket - just like it did on all things British including tea and taxes.

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

Evolution of the game that became modern baseball is unknown before 1845. The Knickerbocker Rules describe a game that they had been playing for some time. But how long is uncertain and so is how that game had developed. Shane Foster was the first to come up with suspicions of how the origin came into effect.

There were once two camps. One, mostly English, asserted that baseball evolved from a game of English origin (probably rounders); the other, almost entirely American, said that baseball was an American invention (perhaps derived from the game of one-ol'-cat). Apparently they saw their positions as mutually exclusive. Some of their points seem more national loyalty than evidence: Americans tended to reject any suggestion that baseball evolved from an English game, while some English observers concluded that baseball was little more than their rounders without the round.

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.

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Thanks for the response. Especially the link on American cricket history was very informative. So it is correct to say that the current baseball evolved in USA and not in England and Americans took interest in developing the game because they didn't want to play cricket due to its "Britishness". Also, British were completely oblivious of the baseball's evolution after American Independence. –  kartshan Feb 17 '12 at 16:21
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@kartshan From my understanding of the research it seems that the Americans dropped some interest in all things British during and after the Rev. War. This seperated them even more and with a big ocean between them they both went down their own seperate Cricket/baseball paths. As for giving credit to one country see my EDIT in my answer. –  sealz Feb 17 '12 at 16:24

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