immigrants who had settled in New York spent their free time playing
cricket, and managed to popularise the sport up and down the East
Coast colonies by the late 1700s.
Up the coast
in Boston, cricket was also played by English immigrants, notably
those who considered themselves as gentry.
had begun quite early on to acquire both a plebean and an Irish
flavor. The game of rounders, an earlier form of cricket which
seems to have been favored by the Irish, as well as by English
children in the 16th century, became the game of choice among
cricketers of the time encouraged "rounders" as a secondary
diversion, and even allowed it to be played in their cricket fields
by those who preferred an alternative to the more formal sport
baseball", i.e. " US rounders", grew up in the
USA under cricket's benign umbrella, and stayed that way for about
the first hundred years of its existence.
arrival of the Civil War helped spread the popularity of 'The
New York Game.' Many soldiers from the Northeast were seen carrying
their equipment while on duty. After the Civil War, the game became
a popular activity, as every hamlet, village, town, and settlement
formed a team.
match between teams from nearby communities was often the setting
for a local holiday.
in baseball rose, changes were made to ensure the game's continued
popularity. For instance,by the early 1800s a round bat was used
instead of a flat cricket bat....modern cricket bats are expensive
and individualized to suit the tastes of different batters, while
baseball bats (which look rather like cricket bats from the 13th
century and earlier) can be used by just about anybody who wants
to play. All players (including the catcher) started using padded
mitts and protective gear when necessary.
the rules were also changed to give back the 'feeder' or 'pitcher'
more of a role in getting batters out.
were allowed to pitch as they wished, not how the striker wanted
him to (as in rounders). Then, the batter was restricted to three
"strikes" (i.e. "misses") on accurate pitches,
and earned a free base run after four inaccurately thrown pitches
(the "four balls" rule)...meaning, a batter was on base
for no more than 5 to 10 pitches every time he came in to bat.
Even this rule was amended, awarding a "strike" to the
pitcher on an inaccurate pitch if he had tempted the batter to
swing and miss...giving the pitcher even greater advantages!
were soon restricted to the spaces between the three bases facing
the batter. At first, a batter could stay on base and make an
unlimited number of hits ("foul tips") outside the scoring
zone, but after 1920 this was restricted to the final "strike"
Previously, the batting side would change on every "out",
but both sides would keep batting until 21 runners had been brought
safely "home". Now, the team bringing more runners "home"
for a given number of "outs" was allowed to claim victory.
each inning to consist of three "outs" effectively split
the game into three short batting forays per side... and, by alternating
these new "innings", each team got the chance to match
or surpass the other's score throughout the course of the game.
This increased the suspense of winning or losing, always an important
factor in American sport.
There is a
hidden irony in the way things happened, in both baseball and
(i.e. US rounders) was supposed to give batters more opportunities
than in cricket, by reducing the role of the pitcher/bowler to
that of "feeder". Yet todays' baseball is a pitcher's
game....while modern cricket is the sport that really gives batters
the major role !
cricket, then, came from very similar backgrounds.
They looked a lot like each other, in baseball's early days.
But, after 1850, the two games drifted apart... and each assumed
its own character and identity.
a longer and more leisurely game as batters (batsmen) began to
dominate the sport, and wanted more time to display their individual
skills. Two-, three-, even five- and six-day games became common...only
lately has the trend reversed, with one-day and half-day "limited
over" matches coming into fashion.
on the other hand, became shorter and more abbreviated....pitchers
assumed an active rather than passive role, then came to dominate
the sport; baseball batters were allowed fewer and fewer options,
could spend less time at bat, and the rules were changed to favor
By the 1900s,
cricket and baseball were looking far more different from each
other than in baseball's earlier years.
And by that
time, it had become an issue of "cricket OR baseball"
in the USA...and everyone knows what happened.